What was the first swear word in the universe? This is the question linguists often ask and debate about. Scientists might not find an answer for it because humanity first learned to speak and after that to write. Today, there are no languages on the planet which would not have its own swear words and terms used by people almost every day.
According to Steven Pinker, an American linguist, the origins of swearing are from the early days of humanity when we “climbed down from the tree” and used strong non-verbal communication to express our negative feelings and emotions. The linguist also emphasises that there is a difference between low language and swearing. Swearing always has an emotional basis because people usually curse another person for some reason with the usage of swear words while on the other hand, low language does not have an emotional basis at all – reports Dívány.
Several studies showed that swearing is healthy and reduces stress as well as mental and physical problems. It is also important that not just people with lower intelligence swear but those who have a high IQ number, too. These people are usually extroverted, honest, quick-tempered and lively.
The Catholic church had strict rules and punishments for those who used swear words especially in the Medieval Ages where swearing equalled insulting God and praising the Devil. These punishments included imprisonment, but sometimes the church ripped out the guilty one’s tongue and even killed them. This strict punishment existed because people believed that whenever someone said something with swear words, it would become a reality and a bad curse on someone.
The earliest Hungarian swear word which was written down comes from the 1370 chronic called Dubnici. This book is kept in the National Széchényi Library in Budapest and tells the story of Hungarian history from the early beginnings. The writer of the book was writing down the story of a battle between Hungarians and Germans and probably became quite emotional because he/she used the following words: kurvanő (kurva = whore, nő = woman), and szaros = shitty.
But where do the most popular Hungarian swear words and expressions come from?
Usually, when someone does not want to use swear words, the expression “franc essen belé” is used which has negative connotations but does not include any bad words. However, it turns out that it does have a negative meaning because “franc” meant syphilis back in the day, and the regularly used Hungarian “fene” (damn) meant cancer. The word “nyavalya” was used for epilepsy, “rossebb” stood for syphilis, “ragya” for smallpox, and “teringettét” meant the Devil.
- The word “teremburáját” (“Damn it.”) was even worse because the original term was “baszom a terem buráját” where the word “baszom” means “to fuck.”
- They originally used “anyád!” (“your mother”) as a curse, meaning that God would curse your mother.
- The word “baszni” (to fuck) was integrated from the Turkish language, and the original meaning was to push, but the word “boszorkány” (witch) also comes from it.
- The word “kurva” has Slavic origins, and it used to mean hen.