Thursday, 3 March 2016

The A–Z of Italy: B

B is for... blasphemy

More or less the most offensive thing you can say in Italy is that God or the Virgin Mary is a pig.

On the other hand, it's no big deal to call anyone or anything else a pig.

And as a result, I hear busy coworkers exclaim "porco diavolo" (literally, the devil is a pig), "porca miseria" (misery/poverty is a pig) or "porca vacca" (the cow is a pig – a personal favourite) at the drop of a hat.

But if in a moment of stress, I should accidentally happen to mutter "dio" or "Madonna" after porco/porca, I have apparently said something that is somewhere between the c-word and the n-word on the offensiveness scale.

In this most Catholic of countries, there is a significant distinction between parolace (general swearing) and bestemmiare (blasphemy).

Blasphemy is hugely offensive – even to many non-believers. You have been warned!

About the A–Z of Italy: These short articles are part of a new series. To see all articles in the series that have been published so far, click the blue 'A–Z' label below.

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