Lojban Profanity, and other Dirty Words

Lojban profanity is an issue that is overly debated and overly complicated. Instead of addressing the issue, the general consensus of the Lojban community has been to sweep the issue under the rug because "we're above that." However, I have been with enough people in this world to know that most people curse at least some time - intelligent people being no exception.

Obviously, saying something like "Oh crap!" is a lot different from saying something like "I'm going to f*ck your mom's f*cking sh*t filled c*nt you piece of sh*t *ssh*le," and indeed the more intelligent of this world would never resort to such vulgarity.

It is exactly this vulgarity which is simply unavailable in Lojban, as the words for sexual processes, sexual organs, and the progeny of various undesirables are all purely scientific and non-metaphorical. The word for anus in Lojban is ganxo, and has no connotation besides an organ which regulates the expulsion of feces. Likewise one could attempt to translate the word "asshole" into Lojban, but the question arises how to translate it? The ass part is easy, but is an anus really a hole? No, it's the end of the digestive tract. So should we call it the "ass type of ending of the digestive tract?" Maybe we could classify it as an opening? But it normally excretes, not intakes, at least according to its intended function.

Thus one can see the problem with bad words in Lojban: they haven't been formally created and it has been avoided to try and maintain Lojban's cultural neutrality, which essentially is starving it of any culture. Cross culturally however, there are certain things that will always be offensive, and the concept of dirty words and curse words is indeed common among mankind.

Attitudinals as expletives

In my opinion, attitudinals do not have that some "umph" when it comes to expletives of their natural language counterparts. Saying uanai is not as satisfying or descriptive as saying "What the f*ck?!" Mainly because the word f*ck is missing, which is always fun to say in times of distress. Attitudinals do a great job at describing how a person is feeling, but they can not be labelled profanity because they aren't.

Gismu as expletives

The problem with using gismu as expletives has also been addressed already: their meaning doesn't imply any negative connotation or deviancy. If we start using them as such, new gismu will have to be made to compensate the loss of these precious words (and what's wrong with that?!) If there were pre-sanctioned gismu for cursing purposes I think this issue would not exist, however as of this writing this has not been taken care of so we will have to make due with the gismu we have now, which are not meant to be vulgar.

Curse Words

In English, despite the lack of inherent vulgarity, if you say the word anus or excrement in mixed company you will still be considered racy. Likewise penis or clitoris, despite their medical connotation. With that said, although these words are not as bad as *sshole and p*ssy, they still can get the job done, especially if you insult the accursed party with these words. Here is a list of the various words which are usually touchy subjects:



Likewise, since gismu by default refer to the doer of their action, one can call another by any inventive term and come off as offensive. For example, if someone came up to me and said coi do doi tacpe'u be lo nakyganti, I would be rightly offended. Meaning though these words are inherently neutral, they can be made bad with a little twist of the imagination, here are a few examples:

tacpe'u be lo nakyganti - tongue-toucher of testicles
pinxe be lo pinca - drinker of urine
tunlo be lo tsiselcigla - semen gulper
gleve'u - sex seller, prositute of either gender

The point is that any number of poetic insults can be crafted within the framework of Lojban, as can they be in any language. They are not as well established as words in other languages, but that can change with time.

One can use these poetic profanities for referring to the listener, one's self, the neighbor, the girl next door or even one's rival's mother. That's what being profane is all about. You can even just scream any one of them aloud upon stubbing your toe or missing the bus.

To make these phrases more useful, you can turn them into imperative sentences. Instead of calling someone a tacpe'u be lo nakyganti, you can tell them to rather perform this action. The strong hearted logician will try and act off this insult with some lecture about how that's in someway illogical, but then you can tell him ".i ko tacpe'u le mi nakyganti .ijonai mi ba gletu le do manmu .i doi tunlo be lo tsiselcigla a'unai" (Lick my b*lls or else I'll f*ck your mother you gulper of repulsive semen), and I'm positive that with the right tone this could even be intimidating. Of course the most famous example of this type of vulgarity is the phrase "ko gletu lo kanba" (go f*ck a goat), which is already well known and can be used anywhere.

If you are looking to curse in Lojban make sure you follow correct grammar and make it clear you're actually cursing and not giving an anatomy lecture. Use some of the above phrases and gismu and have fun! Who knows, your expression of vulgarity might even make its way into the Lojban lexicon!

co'o ro le ganxo gletu be lo kanba .ui


  1. ko malxaigle ko doi bencau xasli

    Is this one good enough? I was surprised you didn't mention {mabla}.

  2. "go fucking fuck yourself so it hurts, you brainless donkey"?

    What do you think about "mrogau ko doi benmro mlatu pinca"?

  3. Words become swearwords through usage, so none of the formal words work initially (except perhaps some UI and things with mal- prefix, but using them gets them there. No word is a natural swear word; they start off as descriptive or even prayerful and grow with circumstances. To be sure, words with high emotional associations -- descriptions of things found unpleasant or very pleasant or even holy -- have an intial advantage, but neckties and and peas can become vulgar in the right course of history. As more humans interact in Lojban, the words will come. Don't try to force your home language's preferences (as of now: "all the fks in Deadwood, stood in for JCs and gds).

  4. All "expletives" are dependent on the culture shared by the speaker and the hearer. All of the utterances listed above tend to be those that would insult someone raised in Western European/English culture. Of course, given that any person who wants to can find something to turn into an expletive. And given sufficient repetition they may become accepted as such. However while I understand that everyone wants to learn "taboo" words and phrases, to demonstrate how "mature" they are, I would prefer that people learn to communicate more clearly among themselves.

  5. Why don't we just have a single, nicely satisfying word indicating that the rest of the sentence is to be taken as vulgar? People will be rightly offended when someone uses this word, since intending to be vulgar is impolite. And, you can scream it when you stub your toe.