Foreign Language Profanity Lessons

Dear Diary:

Late one night, many years ago, I was on a train from Manhattan to Brighton Beach. I was alone in the car except for a group of five or six young men in work clothes who were enthusiastically conversing in what I supposed to be Russian.

Suddenly, out of the background of unintelligible chatter, came one of the most graphic and vulgar idioms English has to offer, followed by a burst of loud and happy laughter. That caught my attention.

The Russian conversation continued again until it was punctuated by an equally rude and explicitly insulting English expression and even more uproarious laughter. This cycle repeated itself several times and each time the laughter got louder as the men became more and more happily animated.

I realized that what I was witnessing was the time-honored tradition shared by all immigrants in a new country.

They were teaching each other the choicest obscenities their new language had to offer.

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