It doesn’t smell like cheese to me

One of my readers is guiding me as I write on these miswords. She commented that she had to explain to her daughter what “cut the cheese” meant. Our societal norm does not favor us to overly use “flatulence” as we describe the odor emitting from one after a gaseous affair. We use “fart”, “break wind”, or “cut the cheese” — all slang words — but seldom do I hear “Please do not flatus at the dinner table.” I have heard “If you have to fart, please leave the table to do so.” Or, “Did someone cut the cheese?”

To a person whose language is not native English, could you imagine smelling the gas emitting from a person, and then hearing someone ask if that person “cut the cheese”? Non-native speakers have a hard time with all the slang words, idioms we use and take for granted. What they understand is the literal meaning of the words — cut the cheese is literally cutting a piece of cheese, not the foul odor or obnoxious sound we refer to when we “cut the cheese”.

We have thousands of these slang words, idioms that we use everyday and think nothing about because they are ingrained in our language. No wonder English is such a hard language to learn. Then again, our words change all the time, and with the advent of the computer, we have an entirely new language to learn. I wonder how you would text “cut the cheese”?



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