The funny thing about living in a world with roughly 7,000 spoken languages is that inevitably, speakers of one language will hear a word in a completely different language and think, “Hehe, that person just said ‘butt.’” Words that sound dirty to speakers of another language are often completely innocuous, even boring, terms in their […]
The funny thing about living in a world with roughly 7,000 spoken languages is that inevitably, speakers of one language will hear a word in a completely different language and think, “Hehe, that person just said ‘butt.’” Words that sound dirty to speakers of another language are often completely innocuous, even boring, terms in their native context. But so go the hilarities of language exchange.
In Gizmodo, Esther Inglis-Arkell came up with a word for this type of linguistic phenomenon: a sordophone. These words are exactly what their name implies: terms that sound dirty, or “filthy sounding.”
Sordophones can definitely exist within the container of a single language — for instance, there are plenty of English words that sound dirty to English speakers, such as “tease-hole” and “haboob.” But the most entertaining sordophones often derive their meaning from speakers of one language perceiving words from another language in a way they were not originally intended to sound.
Below, for your educational purposes and definitely not for your entertainment, are some foreign-language words that might sound dirty to English speakers. Spoiler: Swedish is somehow responsible for the majority of these.
bra — means “good” in Swedish
klit — means “dune” in Danish
die Fahrt — means “trip” in German (like a vacation)
fart — means “speed” in Swedish
molestar — means “to bother” in Spanish
ရှစ် (shit) — means “eight” in Burmese
slut — means “final” in Swedish. Better yet, slutstation is the word for the last stop or terminal on a bus or train line.
dick — means “fat, thick” in German
die Dickmilch — means “buttermilk” or “soured milk” in German
phúc — means “happy” or “luck” in Vietnamese
kock — means “chef” in Swedish
pusė — means “half” in Lithuanian
le phoque — means “seal” in French (like the animal)
dik — means “steep” or “upright” in Turkish
ฟัก (fak) —means “squash” in Thai (like the vegetable)
la douche — means “shower” in French
aholehole — a Hawaiian word for a species of fish
sex — means “six” in Swedish
щит (shchit) — means “shield” in Russian
kunt — means “can” in Dutch (like the verb)
puss — means “kiss” in Swedish
hô — means “shout” in Vietnamese
puszi — means “kiss” in Hungarian
la coque — means “shell” in French
kumbang — a Malay word for a species of beetle
pussi — means “bag” in Finnish
ชิด (chid, sounds a bit like “shit”) — means “close” in Thai
fokken — means “to breed” in Dutch
wanken — means “to sway” or “to shake” in German
Bích — a common girl’s name in Vietnamese that means “jade” or “gemstone”
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