Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell …


‘Alice’ by Shahram Alizadeh

Good morning, my dear friends!

You are probably wondering what’s the matter with me today. Am I smashed? Am I burned-out? Am I getting crazy? Nope, my dear readers, I’m sane, though a bit exhausted, I must confess. My English-speaking readers will surely know this old, frightening chant (Fee-fi-fo-fum) but probably the non-English readers do not know it at all. The chant  says:

I smell the blood of an Englishman,
Be he live, or be he dead
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread …

In Italian:

Ucci ucci,
sento odor di cristianucci,
o ce n’è, o ce n’è stati,
o ce n’è di rimpiattati…

The word by A.Word.A.Day. I’m going to introduce today is indeed a matter of smell. Hold your nose, folks …


1. Mean or contemptible.
2. Having an unpleasant odor.
3. Of or relating to a skunk.
From skunk, an animal that ejects a foul-smelling liquid when frightened. Derived from an Algonquian language. Earliest documented use: 1897.
I had a couple of skunky-sounding audience tapes, tinkling out distant brown scurf from Nassau Coliseum.”
Ben Ratliff; Bring Out Your Dead; The New York Times; Apr 10, 2009.”The battle over campaign disclosure in Idaho’s education-reform campaign is the latest skunky fruit of Citizens United.”
Shawn Vestal; Ills of Citizens United Visible in Idaho Election; Spokesman Review (Spokane, Washington); Oct 26, 2012.
Well, folks, I suppose you are now wondering the reason of ‘my’ selection today: no particular reason actually, I was looking for something reminding children tales and I was struck by this imaginative painting.  Actually, this was not my first choice among this author’s paintings, but probably the most suitable for a couple of reasons: it’s clearly related to fairy tales (Alice in Wonderland) and calls to mind the idea of a search (like the giant’s search in a famous British fairy tale). The second reason is blatantly linked to the term and evoked in an undertone in the painting. So here’s my second guess of the week, what’s the link?
About the author of the picture on top: Shahram Alizadeh is a young, self-taught and talented (IMHO) Iranian artist based in Austria. He was born in Teheran (Iran) during the Islamic Revolution and therefore he calls himself ‘a revolution child’. When he was 11, he and his family fled from Iran to Austria, where they lived for 23 years as political refugees. In his life he experienced homelessness and poverty. Over the years he worked his hard way up to establish himself as an artist. The troubles and worries of his life are vividly and powerfully portrayed in his art. His next step: supporting a charity organization helping refugees in Austria with his art. I wish him all the best.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Please, don’t misinterpret the sense of the hidden link of my post. Though I’m a keen supporter of free will, I’m not keen on drugs. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I feel contempt towards those making (occasional) use of soft drugs, I’m of a tolerant kind. Instead, I feel sad and sorry for those getting high on hard drugs, I see their spoilt lives, their smashed families and I feel contempt for those who casted them in the Devil’s arms. I’m not tolerant on this issue.
Your passionate (Italian) Translator
Amendment of the last second: Gosh, I forgot to quote the Italian translation of the word as promised! As a matter of fact, there’s no exact equivalent in our language, so all I can provide is an equivalent expression. First of all, let me explain that a skunk is translated as moffetta, or puzzola (colloquial but more frequent).
Usage 1) sgradevole (come una puzzola)
Usage 2) puzzolente (come una puzzola)
Usage 3) ‘da puzzola, come una puzzola’

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