On Hindi Swear Words

Genesia Alves writes in to point me to a compendium of Hindi swear words. Such an effort was long overdue, but I wish it had been done better. The translation aims to capture the sense of the abuse rather than the literal meaning, and I’m not sure, in this case, that that’s a good idea.

For example, ‘sala kuttaa’ is translated as ‘stupid bastard’. This is inaccurate. ‘Sala kutta’ (as I would spell it; the extra ‘a’ is redundant) should be translated to ‘brother-in-law dog’. This translation is not merely literally accurate, but possesses immense charm.

You might argue, of course, that if a literal translation adds charm to an abuse, then it loses its sense. But ‘stupid bastard’ captures the sense of almost any abuse, and thus doesn’t do justice to any of them. Indeed, the term ‘bastard’ is used on that page as a translation for ‘chutiya’, ‘haraam zaada’ [sic] and ‘haraami’. It does an injustice to the nuances of all those terms.

Also, ‘chutiya’ is translated twice, as ‘bastard’ and ‘fucker’, and ‘chutiya choo-tia’ is translated as ‘fucker’. Eh?

And in case you think I’m being anal about this, well, my gaandugiri is surely no surpise to those who know me well.