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If I wish to call you a female dog, you must actually be a female dog, as it has yet to gain an accepted metaphorical meaning in lojban. See Calque.

  • Hopefully it never will. The attempt to do so in Loglan failed spectacularly, on the altar of both malglico and of resentment of misogyny. There's an issue of The Loglanist dedicated to it. See also terki.
  • I would hope it would happen naturally, by the jbojbe deciding that it was insulting. (But why female dog and not hermaphoroditic snail? And the phobia of malglico will guarantee that in real life, 'female dog' will not arise in a Lojban community *and will not be passed on to native speakers.* In fact, I guess it'll be actively discouraged in any native speakers, since those kids will likely also be native speakers of English, and the jboseljbe will be ever on the alert for this.)
    • Of course, kids being kids, active discouragement will make it more likely to be used. Taboo words are much more effective insults than sanctioned and approved ones.
  • In non-English languages it's often gleterle'i or gleterle'i panzi. And those languages that do use bitch as an insult use it quite differently. In Greek, for example, skyla is much closer to psychopath or murderess --- much stronger than even English psycho bitch.
  • It again seems to me that most Lojbanists here cannot get out of their English-speaking world

Or I can say you are like a female dog but that loses its punch. I can't use doi which seems the obvious idea, because if there is a female dog doi nimgerku means I will now be addressing the female dog, not the person I wish to insult.

  • Actually, no: doi <selbri> means doi le <selbri>, so vocatives are nonveridical.
  • I think that all ninmu are humans. Try "gerfe'i". Then again, is the se fetsi a gerku or a se gerku?
    • It's a woman-type dog, not a doggish woman.
    • "nimgerku" sounds like a tame counterpart of a werewolf.

So how do you insult people? Mabla? - la .kreig.daniyl.

Basically you have to assert that they possess undesirable properties. Either by claiming they're similar to something unpleasent, or by directly saying do palci or some such. The other possibility, which isn't really insulting, is to say you hope something bad happens to them. ko febvi je se zalvi - be boiled and pulverized. An attitudinal like .uunai would at that point, be appropriate. --Jay

I don't see what's wrong with doi gerfe'i tarti (clearer than simsa); what it is about le'e gerfe'i that the addressee is a culture-specific judgement, of course, as noted. If there is some entity all humans revile for the same reason, then by all means use it. -- nitcion.

I notice there's not a lot of discussion on how to call someone a 'child of other-than-married parents' (lo se rirni be le narspe) here. Bias?

About half a century ago, in southern Germany the depreciatory term "(der/das) Bankert" was used for a child "without" a father...

I believe so; see below. -- nitcion

There is a little political correctness going on here (reticence to say 'beeyotch' even as a topic of abstract conversation --- which may be a U.S.-specific thing; hard to tell.) That's cool; the norms of civil behaviour apply, you don't want to encourage people to be arseholes, we are all to date denizens of a culture in which various traditional forms of discrimination are frowned upon, etc. All this is cool.

I'm reminded, though, of a polemic by Ralph Dumain that appeared in ju'i lobypli. Ralph Dumain, Washington D.C. Esperantist, Anarchist, and (unrelated to these two attributes) insufferably aggressive, said a lot of piffle about how crappy Lojban is; but one thing he said in JL 13 did strike me: "Lojban has not only cultural neutrality, but cultural nullity."

Overstated and vitrolic, but not completely disconnected from reality. Especially with his followup "But the speech community of Esperanto is most diverse, whereas the community of Lojban is extremely uniform and narrow -- computer nerds, sci-fi buffs, people interested in logic and semantics -- not much of a basis for an international culture, and certainly not an ideologically neutral or even divers culture."

It's hard for me not to see any avoidance of Lojban insults through that prism; which is why I find tsali's febvi je se zalvi such a relief.

-- nitcion

febvi je se zalvi is very refreshing to me. It cuts right to the point of trying to insult someone: You dislike 'em so much that you want Bad Things to happen to them. No prancing around with silly phrases which are basically attempts to cover that up. ko na'e zasti comes to mind, also, fwiw. --Jay

For an alternative perspective on insults, or, "Why I would be vaguely amused and not insulted at febvi je se zalvi", try Emotions in Lojban. --xod I find it amusing that you want the other party to notify you of when you should be insulted. :) Hey, if you want to get like that, let's step outside and settle this. --xod

And for a veiled insult, try ko ko kruji. It sounds perfectly nice if they're not listening closely... --rab.spir


And if that doesn't work, try fu'epe'a cecla ganxo fu'o...

(tavlykai and javnykai may turn out to be the deadliest insults, in the end.)

Inasmuch as the one thing we have in common as a community is the language debates :-) --- do jai la'a drani

(In Lojbanistan it is sometimes said disparagingly of another, ko'a

fu'epe'a ba'o pavyseljirna kavbu fu'o birti (or simply kavbu birti)

i.e. "He thinks he has caught the Unicorn"--but this is never said to

them directly, as these are fighting words and it would be illogical

to get into a fight over something that doesn't exist.)

I found myself wondering today what we really could have as proper swear words in Lojban. Cultural neutrality precludes most of the simple answers: not every culture finds sex, excrement, or blasphemy appropriately shocking. And that's really what swearing is about, when it comes down to it. I'm not talking insults here necessarily (maybe this paragraph is in the wrong place), though maybe my result, as you'll see, fits insults better. I mean when you're taken aback, or angry, or otherwise want to emphasize what you're saying by swear words. We don't say "I hate this fucking computer" because we want to insult the computer (or we think it gletu), but for shock value. Fuck is a word not to be said in polite company (for cultural taboo reasons), and we apply it here to shock the listener, for emphasis (and perhaps some catharsis). So what's a Lojban word that can actually be a swear word? Something you don't say in polite company? The one that fits best seems to be le'o (maybe .ionai, etc.) Fightin' words. I'll grant it's probably culturally biased of me, but I envision that a civil culture, no matter its feelings about sex, shit, and religion, would frown on words that sow or indicate discord and animosity. OK, I qualified and said "civil culture," but then in an uncivil culture probably nothing shocks. I could see le'o as working as an actual swear-word... though you might have to be careful about its being heard as actual fighting words. (and I keep thinking that le'o is the perfect translation for the line in Star Trek: Insurrection when Worf says "Definitely feeling aggressive tendencies!" That wouldn't quite come across if le'o were commonly used as I'm envisioning). Well, something for you all to think about. --mi'e .mark..

mabla is the purest of all swear words; every other choice, including le'o, assumes the society finds something shocking. But ALL Lojbanic societies find "mabla" shocking! I know I do. --xod

ki'ai seems to have been proposed to remedy this lack--though its only use so far has met with severe criticism...

It's all well & good that a language be culturally neutral, but its speakers needn't be. I take particular pleasure in importing English metaphors and other rhetorical quirks (such as "I don't think that p" instead of "I think that not p") into Lojban usage. Like Jordan, I have been wont to use malkalci, and also metaphors involving buggery/arse-attacking. I find that the act of faithfully transposing these cultural specifics into Lojban serves to turn the spotlight on them, foregrounding these cultural trappings that usually pass unnoticed. --And Rosta


I believe that cuss words are used as shock works (as stated eariler) because they are not used in polite conversation and are also used to sound "cool" (by American standards) because they are not found in polite conversation.

In America the it is considered "cool" to "go aginst the system" and not care what everybody think or believes. Cuss words are then used for example "that f***ing car was so f***ed out last night it was f***ing awesome!" to show frinds/peers that your cool becuase you cuss often. I don't believe cuss words are wanted or necessary for Lojban in this case.

Cuss words are used as shock words to show someone that your incredibly angry or upset. I think that people could use their own words for this and that we don't need offical shock words or insulting phrases for the language.

If within a circle of frinds if someone wants to call someone else a "female dog" (although I don't know why you'd call your friend that) they can go right ahead. But people can come up with their own insults or insulting comparisons to use.

(I think too many people are hooked on the idea of translating English insults and phrases directly into Lojban. We need to accept that this is a different language and not another form of English)


I have a sinking feeling that the most emotionally appropriate translation may involve far more attitudinals than most of us are used to using. --Plastic Raven