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Do all cultures have swear words? © iStock

Do all cultures have swear words?

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Unless you're speaking Esperanto, it's best to cover your ears.

Asked by: Lois Michael, Chiswick


It's been suggested people can't swear in Japanese or Finnish, but the rumours are wrong in both cases - the only languages in which one cannot swear are 'artificial' ones such as Esperanto.

The Japanese tend to use phrases rather than individual words to produce a range of taboo expressions, none of which can be printed here. Bill Bryson claims in his book Mother Tongue that there are no swear words in Finnish, but several websites give long lists.

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