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I just came across someone asking this in online chat:

这里能说脏话吗

I've taken that to mean, is there anyone here who can speak x?. It's the x bit I'm unsure of. If I look up 脏话 in a dictionary it says it means 'speaking rudely'. Does it have another meaning in 这里能说脏话吗?

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1  
脏话means swearwords –  user58955 Dec 12 '13 at 17:27
    
I am not sure which dictionary you were looking up, but the first result when googling "脏话 english": en.bab.la/dictionary/chinese-english/%E8%84%8F%E8%AF%9D –  deutschZuid Dec 12 '13 at 22:12

6 Answers 6

up vote 6 down vote accepted

From my point of view, 「这里能说脏话吗」may have several diffrent meanings in different context.

  1. Ask other people whether he can swear in the chatroom.
    In this case, the person ask the question wants to talk rudely in the chatroom.
  2. It servers as a rhetorical question.
    This person may have seen some people talk rudely in the chatroom. So he said this to remind other poeple that it is not allowed to speak rudely in this chartroom.
  3. 「我能说脏话吗」"Can I speak X?"
    This is most common seen on line. It's widely used that in fact this phrase has become an online idiom among Chinese people.
    It origins from a passer-by when asked by a journalist of his opinion about increasing gasoline price:
    「我能说脏话吗?不能?那就没有可说的。」 "Can I speak X? No? Then there's nothing to say.." Now Chinese people use this phrase to express dissatisfaction about something especailly when under somekind of censorship.
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From the context of what was going in at the time, I reckon it must have been #3 –  Cocowalla Dec 13 '13 at 16:44

脏话 means F-word or profanity.

means dirty, implies sex organs or sexual intercourse.

means language or words.

So the literal meaning of 脏话 is dirty words.

脏话 stands for some words about sex organs used to insult people, that is to say, profanity or F-word.

这里能说脏话吗? stands for May I speak F-words here?

Also, another example mentioned by user fabregaszy: 我能说脏话吗?不能?那我就没什么可说的。 stands for May I speak F-words? No? Then I have nothing to say. It shows that the speaker is extremely angry of this decision so I have to say nothing except F-words to the decision maker.

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F words, litterally dirty words

这里能说脏话吗= Is speaking F words allowed here?

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The simple and direct translation of

这里能说脏话吗?

is

Can we speak dirty words here?

or

Can we speak filthy words here?

"we" or "I" is implied in the sentence. The words would have to be spoken by someone.

The wiki page Seven dirty words are examples of dirty words (profanity) or 脏话.

By the way, 脏话 is not allowed here.

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First of all, you saw this sentence in a online chat, people in online chat room tend to use sarcasm. So the meaning of the sentence here is:

Can I swear/speak rudely here?

This situation happens when a guy saw something in the chat and really want to swear on it. Instead of typing a particular one, this guy use this sentence to explain that he really want to swear all the rude words he can come up with.

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I would read this sentence as literally "can one speak rudely here?" Or, more colloquially: "can we swear here?" "Is there anyone here who can swear?" would be more like "这里有人能说脏话吗?"

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It seems like a rather strange thing to say though?! –  Cocowalla Dec 12 '13 at 17:45
    
Some chat rooms have rules against swearing, no? So it seems like a reasonable thing to ask to me. –  user238264 Dec 12 '13 at 19:54
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@Cocowalla See this picture. There's a well-known incident where a reporter asks a man what he thinks about gas prices. He says, "Can I swear? No? Then I don't have anything to say." –  Stumpy Joe Pete Dec 13 '13 at 7:45

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