How the Dutch use diseases as curse words

The World


In the Dutch language, many profanities and expletives are derived from disease. In The Netherlands, you might tell someone you really dislike to optyfen or “typhus off.” It’s a contrast to English where many swear words and phrases are linked to sex. Marten van der Meulen explains the lingering theme of disease in Dutch swear words. He’s a Dutch linguist and the co-author of a book translated roughly as “The Big Dutch Book of Swearing.”

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