Maybe it's because I write so much, but I've always been fascinated with words and languages. Where did they come from; how did different sounds come to represent words for different people, and why? I think it's amazing that so many people have come up with different ways of being able to communicate ideas, emotions, and abstract concepts.
There's so much you can learn about a culture from its language based on the ideas and concepts they are able to express and how they utilize the words at their disposal when doing so. In English we may be able to call an object a television and understand what that means, but another language may have to string a couple of words together that will describe the function in order to communicate the same meaning: the box which brings people to life.
English of course is itself a mongrel of a language, being made up of bits and pieces from all the peoples who ever invaded the British Isles dating back to the Romans and earlier. If you look at the earliest texts written down in the English language — Beowulf, Sir Gawain And The Green Knight, or Chaucer's Canterbury Tales — you wouldn't recognize it as being the same as what we speak today. Even today the English language continues to evolve depending on where its spoken and by whom. The English spoken in India differs from that spoken in Australia, which differs from what's spoken in Canada, and that in turn is different from the form it takes in the United States.
Yet, in spite of all that's different between us, and all the distinctive flavours that our languages have, there is one thing it seems they all have in common; the ability to rip the flesh off someone's bones with a few well chosen words or phrases. According to Curse + Berate In 69+ Languages published by Soft Skull Press every language from Afrikaans to Zulu contains the means to be rude, crude, lewd, and just downright insulting.
Assembled by the staff of the International Literary Review, the The Gobshite Quarterly and edited by R.V. Branham, editor of the same publication, Curse + Berate In 69+ Languages contains an A-Y listing of English profanity (abnormal-Yuppie/snob; apparently no curses found in the English language begin with Z) translated into as many languages as possible. A second section contains a selection of choice phrases for use in specific circumstances. "Corpus Politic Or What Would Caligula Say/Do & Variations" for instance contains a list of things that one culture might say to another in a moment of pique, or aspersions you might want to cast upon your political enemies in times of undue stress.