Khàu is the pronunciation for 哭 in Taigi. It is only a curse word because when using it alone you are actually implying the word being used in conjunction with other words such as pē (爸) or iau (枵).
Khàu-pē, cry for father, is cursing the other person’s father to die.
Khàu-iau, cry because of hunger, is cursing the other to become a beggar.
The fact that the khàu is said with a 2nd tone instead of it’s original 3rd tone, which means it went through a tonal sandhi, implies there is supposed to have words after it.
Sometimes you’d hear wa4-kao4 thrown around when someone is surprised, I think mostly by people over 30 these days. It is just a mangling of guá khàu- 我哭, which is also just an abbreviation of an much longer curse that has a subject word, e.g. I curse you to cry for…
Also, sometimes you hear wa4-sai4 instead of wa4-kao4. It’s from guá sái 我駛, and it is implied to have the words lí-niâ after it. The full curse has the meaning along the lines of I ride your mom. This is the one that has a much closer meaning to 肏.
So, something to think about before you throw cow and wasai around.
Usually just damn or shit. Or fuck. As in i lost my wallet oh fuck. I think it depends on the parents if they consider it to be a strong a shit or as weak as damn. I had parents get angry aomeone else was swearing in class with his word and afew imes had parents chew me out for punishing their kids saying it in class.
End of the day i just treat it as a word that seems to be “low class” and only use it socially for fun or when in fight mode. Never in professional settings.
When I first came to Taiwan many Moons ago, I was looking for an oven. I didn’t quite understand the tonal system here and I was getting a little frustrated not being able to make myself understood.
So as most English speakers do in English
when frustrated is we tend to emphasize the words with a downward intonation…
I was wondering why the department store hostesses gave me a funny look…
Maybe I was asking her for a “fucking box”, well that would have been the MTV across the street.
But I think there are a lot of Chinese words which if pronounced in the forth tone mean something naughty