Does dirty talk embarrass you or excite you?
It’s situational, isn’t it?
Wielding graphic language with skill isn’t the same as sounding like you’ve memorized a porn screenplay. When dialogue flows, so can bodily fluids. But when one’s vocabulary is limited to the same words over and over, it sounds like a scratched record.
You’ll know someone is getting repetitive when you get the sudden urge to shove your tongue down their throat just to shut them up. Same goes when a body part starts hovering insistently near your mouth while a torrent of filth is still pouring forth from your lips.
Back when I lived in England with my first husband, I once received an expensive phone bill with the same number showing up again and again. The reason the bill was so high is that it was an international call to French Guiana, the overseas region in South America France launches space rockets from.
Curious to a fault, I called the number. It was a phone sex line, one of those that play recordings.
A line about one’s glans being as big as a kiwi fruit is forever etched in my mind because it made me laugh so hard I’m still giggling some two decades later.
To my British husband who only ever had a tentative grasp of French, that was exciting enough to keep calling. I guess he needed a masturbation soundtrack when I wasn’t home and he couldn’t find another vagina to insert his penis into.
While I didn’t find the kiwi fruit analogy exciting, the use of graphic language in that recording was pure editorial mastery. I could appreciate how one might be turned on by it even though I’m pretty sure my husband was just after the French accent, something I failed to provide.
Knowing what to say and when to say it is an art.
With a new partner, there’s always the possibility they might either recoil or burst out laughing, which could kill the mood. And when the two of you are communicating in a language other than your mother tongue, it can get even more complicated.
If swearwords are what language learners commit to memory first, they can get corrupted in the heat of the moment. Sometimes, they’re so cliché they stand no chance of ever getting you any action.
Gentlemen, please don’t quote Lady Marmalade lyrics to a French-speaking woman you’re trying to impress.
There isn’t a single French speaker to whom “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?” will come across as a novelty, not even with your cute accent, fluttering eyelids, and toothiest smile.
At worst, it’ll exasperate us, we’ll shrug, and turn on our heels muttering some choice words under our breath. At best, we’ll start cackling and won’t be able to stop, which is guaranteed to shrink even the most spectacular of boners.
And no, when a line is that overused, you don’t get any points for effort.
But try a variation on a theme and some of us might start paying attention because linguistic mastery is sexy. “Coucher” means “to sleep” and also “to fuck”, it’s a multi-register verb. Substitute that for “faire l’amour” and your elegant and formal phrasing might just get the demoiselle of your dreams to pay attention.
Once you’ve established a rapport, that is.
Bang! You’ve just reverse-engineered smut. There’s something reverential in mentioning “l’amour” and we Franco folks are incorrigible romantics.
When I moved to the Azores, a remote Portuguese archipelago in the North Atlantic, I was surprised at how hungry men were.
At the time, I was still learning Portuguese and wasn’t au fait with the many uses of the verb “comer.”
Leery men came across as vaguely cannibalistic as they followed me on the street and told me they wanted to eat me.
And because I’m an airhead always juggling at least two languages, I didn’t dwell on this odd intention they kept expressing.
I just thought they liked fresh meat.
Eventually I realized they were being very upfront about wanting to fuck me. This gave me the incentive to learn some salty Portuguese so I could reply in kind, alas my comedy accent means I still don’t sound very credible all those years later. Although my Portuguese is fluent, my intonation is always off when it comes to swearing, I’m not sure why.
Once I could understand what those random men were saying, did it turn me on? Well, no, for the simple reason they invariably failed to expand or clarify. They all sounded the same.
Lest you should paint me as a catcalling apologist, I’m not. It’s a churlish way to approach women but my obsession with human communication and language means I can’t help being curious about the message.
Mine is an odd disposition, perhaps: I’m open to all kinds of textual and linguistic experimentation but only as long as it’s consensual. And non-threatening.
I don’t get turned on by sinister speech implying bodily harm or rape play because I’ve survived the actual reality of what some fantasize about more than once. It wasn’t fun having someone pull out a large kitchen knife and holding it to my face telling me they could use it if they wanted to. (They did not, thankfully. And when I was safe and berated them for getting turned on by someone else’s fear, they got furious and told me I sounded like their Irish mammy. I took it as a compliment.)
But in the context of a mutually respectful sexual interaction or better still loving relationship, dirty talk can be fun. Some will get a kick out of telling their partner what to do, others will get a kick out of submitting to graphic desires.
Is our body’s largest erogenous zone located between our ears?
To many of us, sex is a cerebral pursuit that starts in the brain and not in our pants.
And if you happen to cherish the flexibility of language and use it with exacting precision, it can become a sex toy.
While this may not be quite what she meant when she reminded is that words matter, Hilary Clinton had a point. Language is invariably a means to an end, including in the bedroom. From letting your partner know what you’re into to daring word play, it can be a powerful aphrodisiac.
Sometimes, the more graphic the language, the quicker the heart rate, and the readier for action the body parts.
Our predilection for language often deemed indecent, lewd, or obscene keeps an entire industry afloat. From porn to chat lines via sex workers and erotic literature, knowing what to say is big business.
And the same approach can work wonders between the sheets.
Textual exploration and word play aren’t degrading when carried out with mutual respect and curiosity in mind.
And if you haven’t tried it yet, becoming a cunning linguist could even enrich your sex life.
I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor living out of a suitcase in transit between North America and Europe. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.