Cursing in Mexico

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Where Swearing is about the Context: MEXICO CITY New York Times

Two teenage girls drank coffee at a cafe the other afternoon and chatted away about boys, clothes, their weekend plans, whatever seemed to be on their minds. They were clearly friends, but repeatedly referred to each other with a Spanish word meaning “ox” or “steer” or “stupid.” The word — güey, also spelled buey — makes most lists of Mexican profanities, but it has been taken and used by the young generation as a kind of term of . Like many Mexicans, though, the teenage girls also pulled from an arsenal of very potent curse words, most of which referring in one way or another to sex. Even those were so casually, however, that they did not seem to carry much .

     Mexicans, their reputation in Latin America for ultra- and formality, curse all the time, a recent survey found. They use profanity when speaking with their friends, with their co-workers, with their , and even with their bosses and parents. On Independence Day, the thing to shout above all else is “Viva Mexico, Cabrones!”

     Consulta Mitofsky, asked 3,000 Mexicans 18 and older about their use of “groserías,” as curse words are known in Spanish, and found that respondents estimated they used an average of 20 bad words a day. Those swearing the most, not surprisingly, were young people. Geographically, the worst offenders were in the north, near the border with the United States, and in the center of the country. Men were generally more than women, though not by much. People of higher socioeconomic levels were also more profane, the survey found, than those supposedly lower on the scale of success. Cursing can also be attributed to families, the survey found, with those who admitted cursing the most saying that their parents used obscenities as well.

     Raúl Trejo, a sociologist at the National University of Mexico, said can be done with creativity and can express emotions that are difficult to express with other words. 

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