Due to the recent passing of my grandmother I've been thinking more and more of something she said when I was a little child. She said something like "The Finnish language can utterly destroy a person verbally" and "When I argue I prefer to do this in Finnish". Naturally this was quite interesting then, but needless to say she did not want to say any examples in front of our parents. Me being Swedish with no knowledge of Finnish whatsoever wants to know if anyone could enlighten me in this matter? Are other languages more limited in terms of profanities etc. than the Finnish language? If so, does anyone have any kind of explanation of how it came to be so?

  • Well, in what sense did she mean it can destroy a person verbally? The amount of swear words? Swedish has indeed very limited swearing (in fact you cannot even say to someone FY), so it would not surprise me if any language looks like it can be more insulting.
    – Midas
    Jul 23, 2014 at 12:40
  • 2
    Why do all the interesting questions get put on hold?
    – fdb
    Jul 25, 2014 at 23:36
  • @fdb I know, right? It's the blessing/curse of the StackExchange ethos. Jul 18, 2018 at 4:38
  • And @Cenderze I know nothing of Finnish, apart from the fact that (a) your grandmother was unlikely to have embarked on a detailed cross-linguistic survey of profanity before saying that; and (b) Finnish was the nearest accessible foreign language for your grandmother. This is just Othering, and Othering works best with a familiar Other. If your grandmother was in Greece, she'd be referring to Turkish instead; if in Vietnam, Chinese. Jul 18, 2018 at 4:42


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