Thursday, May 22, 2008

Who Cut the Cheese?

Recently, one of our students – a 3-year-old girl – asked how to say onara in English. (Children always ask the questions everyone else is too shy to ask!) There are several ways to say onara in English – some polite, some not so polite.

The politest way is “to pass wind” or “to break wind.”

e.g. “Someone passed wind!” or “Someone broke wind!”

However, the more commonly used, although not so polite, word is “to fart.”

e.g. “Someone farted!”

Like most embarrassing body functions, English also has a few interesting ways to say onara. My favorite is “to cut the cheese.” These days, most cheeses come wrapped in plastic, all their natural smells sucked out in the factory. In the good old days (back when I had hair!), many cheeses used to come dipped in wax. When you first cut the wax off, a strong fart-like smell would fill the room.

Next time you’re in a crowded subway and someone passes wind, you can ask, “Who cut the cheese?”

About 30 years ago in Australia, there was a popular comedy book series called “Who farted?” The cover of the book was just the question, “Who farted?” Inside the book there were many old photos of various historical events. In the early years of photography, cameras were very slow. When you posed for a photo, you couldn’t smile or blink because it might cause your face to be out of focus. As a result, many old photos show groups of people with serious looks on their faces and wide-open eyes – it always looks like everyone in the photo has smelled something unexpected.

Who farted?!

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