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A Mighty Wind: Passing Gas in 18 Languages

I recently had the pleasure of undergoing a minor medical procedure. Nothing serious, just the sort of exploratory look-see that all of us face as we grow older. It was a bit like "Fantastic Voyage," if the scientists in that 1960s film had explored a rather less agreeable passage than the bloodstream.

Anyway, as I awoke from the anesthesia (the best part of the whole process; one minute I was awake, the next minute I was... awake again, with no memory of the intervening time) a nurse ordered me to pass gas. Apparently, passing gas is vitally important to this procedure. Failure to fart (we're all adults here; I can use that word, can't I?) can have severe medical consequences. And so from behind the curtains of this busy surgical center I could hear other patients being exhorted to break wind.

Now, I'm willing to venture that most of us have farted in our lives. We try to be judicious about it (not in church; not in a crowded elevator), but it happens. What's rare, though, is being ordered to fart. I asked the nurse if some patients had a problem with it. Yes, she said, old ladies often were not keen to comply. For them, the psychological barrier was just too high.

And what about people from foreign countries, I asked. How do you communicate with them? The nurse pointed to a piece of paper taped to the wall. I don't know if you have ever wondered how to tell a Korean, Filipino or Italian how to fart, but if you have, I offer this handy cheat sheet: How to invite someone to break wind in 18 different languages.

Korean: Bung Koo

Chinese: Fom Pee/ Pie Chee

Spanish: Pasar Gasses/ Pedo

Armenian: Basz toe

Taiwanese: Funkee-pass gas

Portuguese: Pedo

Farsi: Gooz bede

Russian: Puk Nee

Vietnamese: Dit

Philippine: Kabag-gas oh mo toot ka

Arabic: Ha Ridge

Turkish: Ul Cer

French: Dis Gas

German: Fuhren sie gas

Italian: Pass il Gas

Swahili: Kyfoosi

Somali: Doughso

Polish: Parvee Etra

If you speak Polish, Farsi or another language and this looks wrong, please make a correction in the Comments section. I'd hate to think the wrong order was being given.

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By John Kelly  |  January 5, 2009; 9:04 AM ET
 | Tags: contest, farting, medicine  
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"Now, I'm willing to venture that most of us have farted in our lives"

Umm, why yes, especially if one is taking Plavix! ;)

Posted by: Mbyrnepsyd | January 5, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

To get someone to fart who speaks REDNECK, or West Virginian:

Pull Ma Finger.

Posted by: Robbnitafl | January 5, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I hope Weingarten doesn't "get wind" of this. He thinks he's got a copywright on that end of the anatomical spectrum.

I am wondering if the procedure you had is the same one Katie Couric was famous for undergoing on national television a few years ago. I've had that, but wasn't out for it. Did get some really interesting drugs, though.

Posted by: reddragon1 | January 5, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I think that's a 1924 Hudson in the picture.

Posted by: reddragon1 | January 5, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Best colonoscopy story ever, from Dave Barry:

Posted by: wiredog | January 5, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm, I'm envisioning new signs for the metro trains....

Posted by: justhere | January 5, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

The only appropriate Russian verb I know is бздеть, of which the imperative would be бздите /bzDEE-tyeh/. "Puk Nee" doesn't make any sense at all.

Posted by: ajsmithva | January 5, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | January 5, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Should any of the respondants have objections to the 18 that are written here, make-up your own or just "pass it".

Posted by: 68b2b | January 5, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

This is also a good resource:

Posted by: enogabal | January 5, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

As a fart-survivor I can relate to this story very well. I am planning to establish a fart-suvivor group to help those who have difficulties dealing with the decease and the intricacies of selecting and letting one out for the proper ambient. It is an art that can be easily master to allow us fart-suvivors to enjoy every occasion.
Those interested in joining the group, please contact Mr. Kelly.

Posted by: opita | January 5, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

ajsmithva beat me to the punch with the Russian. "Puk" is the Russian word for "tuft" or "wisp," and "nee" is a negative particle. So "puk nee" probably wouldn't work, plus it sounds more like an isolative Asian language such as Chinese (which you already have), Lao, or Thai. Or maybe it's Korean. Doubt it's Japanese, which is an agglutinative language. Whatever it is, it's not Russian. In graduate school (my tuition dollars at work), we were taught that бздеть was the verb "to fart," and "бздëx" was the noun "a fart." ajsmithva also has the polite imperative in there, "бздите." Nice of them to be so polite.

If it's the, ahem, procedure I'm thinking of, I had it too, in June 2003, and no one asked me to fart. Was I depreived of the best part of the procedure?

Posted by: bucinka8 | January 5, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

sorry, i meant disease, apparently, my mind was deceased.

Posted by: opita | January 5, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

In Italy, colonoscopies are done WITHOUT anesthesia. (hey, when you're macho, you're macho.) Having said that, and having read your list of "commands", I have two theories. 1) you are being a troll, in internet parlance. In common language, you are s----ing us (all adults here, right?). 2) the hospital's idea is to make people laugh so hard that they expel all excess air. Besides Italian, I speak a few other of the languages on your list and I can tell you that the "commands" given in Italian, German and Russian air...

Posted by: lisamarie1 | January 5, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if John Kelly is hoping to be named spokesman for that top-selling iPhone application, iFart, which the New York Times refused to name in an article last Friday describing the application.

Posted by: OTBerbur | January 5, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Where did you get that ridiculous Taiwanese version? I'm Taiwanese-American and know only a handful of Taiwanese words, including fart, poop, and homosexual (sorry, don't mean to suggest that homosexual is on the same level as fart and poop). Fart in Taiwanese is "bum-pwee."

Posted by: jycnyc | January 5, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Women who have c-sections are routinely asked to fart before they can have solid food.

Posted by: michaelehill | January 5, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

As a native speaker I can say that the Russian is perfectly valid and is the common expression used, it is however one word. It's in the Russian dictionary as a conversational expression and refers to the actual farting sound.

Posted by: lenzai | January 5, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for the assorted linguistic opinions. I knew we'd have some polyglots in the audience. I make no claims for this list other than that it's the one used by the surgical center I had the pleasure of frequenting. I was told that these are the phonetic pronunciations of the various demands. It may be that the language is ridiculously formal. Certainly it was in English. I mean, saying "I need you to pass gas" sounds kind of stilted, at least as compared to "Fart!"

All I can say is, I'm glad I don't live in Italy.

Posted by: JohnFKelly | January 5, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse


"Chinese: Fom Pee/ Pie Chee"


Posted by: rush_n_crush | January 5, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

It is said that human beings pass gas about 20 times a day. At 74 years, I can do that before breakfast. Ask my wife.

Posted by: mtndance | January 5, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

The Great American Newspapers have let us down a lot lately: the 2000 elections, the 2004 elections, the lead-up to the war in Irak,American torture, the "Fascisation" of our country under Cheney, you have all been pretty soft on those.
At least let me correct you on The Fart: in French, there are quite a few ways to name the deed: to fart: péter; pass wind: lâcher un vent; lâcher une caisse, rugir, are just a few examples.
Happy New Year

Posted by: babar56 | January 5, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

What's the Japanese word/phrase?

How about Tagalog?

Sounds like the meds need better lists. Hope their med skills superior to their foreign linguistics...

Posted by: Spectator | January 5, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

The first time I had a colonoscopy a few years ago, a nurse in the recovery room spoke a bit more euphemistically -- saying they needed evidence that my bowels were again working before they could release me. Still a bit woozy, I responded, "Oh, you mean like this," and farted long and loudly. From other curtained areas in the recovery room I heard loud laughter.

Posted by: WallisM | January 5, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Don't tell Congress. They'll want to tax medical farting to prevent destruction of the ozone layer.

Posted by: 2bassethounds | January 5, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Auf Deutsch sagt man "furzen."

Posted by: WallisM | January 5, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Great piece, i laughed till i almost know...
But I must say being an expert in Portuguese and at times, other more bodily functions, I must make a correction on your Portuguese, it is not pedo but it is peido and that is the noun, the verb would be to "dar um peido,"
I also think that the French is also wrong but I am no expert in speaking French. I believe the French should be "pet".
But again thank you it is the best lauugh i have had in 2009 and well, i will pass your gas along to others in a most dignified way.
Fall River, MA

Posted by: ric4 | January 5, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

On dit "péter" en francais.

Posted by: WallisM | January 5, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

And here I thought "A Mighty Wind" was just a Christopher Guest mockumentary.

Posted by: SportzNut21 | January 5, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

The (Mandarin) Chinese should be "Fang pi."

Posted by: james44 | January 5, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

So many farts, so little time. John, keep up this journalism and that Pulitizer will soon be yours.

Posted by: justhere | January 5, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

The Kennedys fart when they open their mouths.

Posted by: Efffyew2 | January 5, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

OTBerbur! I'm pretty sure "i Fart" is the Danish for one-way - as in one-way street. I remember seeing it when we drove around Copenhagen!

Posted by: rpkelly | January 5, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

I hope everything went well for you and the nurse!!

Posted by: ninco | January 5, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Why do the nurses need this list at all? If ever there were a time for onomatopoeia...

Posted by: nickplumb | January 5, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

When my sisters and I were little we called it "doing a motorbike". The only person we knew with a motorbike was the local Church of England vicar.

Posted by: andro1 | January 5, 2009 9:09 PM | Report abuse

The Russian version is correct, albeit it is one word. The word бздеть was probably used back in the 18th century or so. So, sorry, bucinka8, your tuition dollars might have worked back then, but today it is "Puknee".

Posted by: Dura | January 5, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

WOOOOAAAAAHHHHHh...Be GLAD you aren't sitting here with me at this...hold on.............very moment..

Posted by: andio76 | January 5, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Well, dura and lenzai, I guess you schooled me. However, my manicurist definitely recognized бздеть, and to be fair, in a hospital setting we do want something polite, yes? (And to be really fair, I wasn't the only one who posted it...)

As for French:
On dit "péter" en francais.
I guess that's whence Le Petomane derived his stage name.

Posted by: bucinka8 | January 5, 2009 11:33 PM | Report abuse

"I guess that's whence Le Petomane derived his stage name."
It is, indeed!

Posted by: otherliz | January 6, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

OMG, these posts have me laughing so hard!!!

had surgery once that involved moving the good ole intestines around a bit and when i woke up i was told that passing gass would help. so i happily did it!! felt good :)

Posted by: nall92 | January 6, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

OK, the light is beginning to dawn. If the modern verb in Russian is пухнуть, the familiar imperative would be пухни /POOKH-nee/.

Reminds me of the famous headline in the French newspapers when Princess Margaret declined to marry Peter (Townsend?):


This can be read as "Margaret Gives Up Farting."

This has really been a gas.

Posted by: ajsmithva | January 6, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

there are a lot off german expressions in
the german language:
in popular terms 'der Furz', 'furzen'
in normal 'Blähungen haben'

Posted by: dieengel | January 7, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

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