I have this embarrassing habit of inserting taiwanese swears into my mandarin conversation because i don’t know what rates as a swear and what is more like the teasing that’s such an important part of taiwanese social life.
Before anyone asks…you learn these things when you hang out in pool halls and internet cafes all the time : )
KAO YA…JI BAI…GAN NI MA…I’ve said them all in polite company, ruining many an afternoon tea.
My latest gaffe: Saying KAO YA to a taiwanese friend who’s something of a whiner.
Well she got real quiet and I knew i’d stepped in it (again). Groveling ensued. All was forgiven.
Later I asked another friend to explain why KAO YA is such a terrible thing to say to someone. Was it 臟話 (zang1hua4)?
“it’s even worse than 臟話” she said. There followed an extremely convoluted explanation about mourning for ones dead father, or a famous story about a child mourning for a dead father to which KAOYA is an allusion, and that KAOYA in chinese is 哭么 (kuyao), which means “crying youngest child” or something…anyone have any information on this?
The best I can figure, KAOYA means “Stop acting like the youngest child in the family mourning for his dead father.” ie, you have nothing to whine about, so shut up. Close?
And i guess that KAOYA refers to the death of a relative, so it belongs to a subterannean class of swears even worse than the merely sexual or scatalogical kinds of 臟話.
How far off am I here?