I was chatting with Ali Isaac and I joked that the Greeks (notorious for their ogling) probably have as many words for behinds, as the Inuit have for snow. Ti prove my point, I mentioned that Homer uses the word καλλίπυγος (kallipygos) to describe Venus’ beautiful behind, as early as 3,500 years ago. Incidentally, the same name was used to describe a famous 1st century BC statue of Venus, seen on the right.
Mind you, kallipygos is not to be confused with φαρδοκάπουλη (fardokapouli), which simply means a woman has wide hips.
Even better, Greeks seem to carry on this fine tradition. The other day I heard in Corfu a woman described as νερατζόκωλη (neradjokoli, lit. bitter orange-arsed): she was from Arta – a region famous for its bitter oranges.
Indeed, in the hilarious slang.gr (sorry, only available in Greek), I counted at least eighty (!) words and expressions relating to posteria, including the unpronouncable τσαπερδονοκωλοσφυρίχτρα (tsapernodokolosfirichtra) – slang for a woman using her behind to entice men.
So, imagine my surprise when I found out that Greeks are not the only ones infatuated by behinds. Indeed, the stoic Swedes have quite a few expressions referring to them. For example:
Smaken är som baken, delad – Taste is like your bum, divided:
While English speakers sometimes rather crudely compare opinions to assholes (everyone has got one), Swedes elaborate by likening opinions to bottoms: both are split down the middle.
Finns det hjärterum så finns det stjärterum – If there’s room in the heart there’s room for the arse:
As everyone knows, nothing can make a guest feel more welcome than talking about their posteria. When Swedes are accommodating for extra guests, they’ll often use this beautifully rhyming proverb to welcome them – and their behind.
Oh those Swedes
When not reminiscing of bottoms, the Swedes seem to enjoy coming up with more unusual sayings:
Ingen ko på isen – There’s no cow on the ice:
This is a popular saying in Sweden, which quite simply means “Don’t worry”. One wonders just how often one meets ice-skating cows in Sweden.
Skägget i brevlådan – Caught with your beard in the letterbox:
The equivalent of getting your hand stuck in cookie jars, or getting caught red-handed. Swedes, apparently, are in the habit of getting their beards caught in letterboxes.
I bet Saruman wishes he’d thought of that, instead of imprisoning Gandalf on the pinnacle of Orthanc.
The Gaelic Connection
To return to the behinds, shapely and otherwise, there are some Gaelic sayings about them, as well. For example,
Fear sam bith a loisgeas a mhàs, s e fhèin a dhfheumas suidhe air.
Whoever burns his backside must himself sit upon it.
And, to put everything in perspective, I’ll leave you with this little Irish gem:
Is luath fear doimeig air fàire, latha fuar Earraich.
Swift is the slut’s husband over the hill, on a bleak day in Spring. One wonders how fast he’s in other seasons, of course. Still, dare I paraphrase to “Swift is the tsaperdonokolosfirichtra’s husband over the hill, on a bleak day in Spring“?