Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Say cheese!

As I was drifting off to sleep last night, I thought of the phrase "say cheese" and wondered who coined it. I still have no idea, but I wanted to share how brilliant I think this idea was. The entire word causes you to form a smile-like look with your mouth. Che-es-e. Totally brillz! I wondered what word would be used to produce this same effect in French. Valise? The "va" part doesn't really jibe. Cheese in French is "frommage", which certainly doesn't produce a smiley face while being said. I consulted my favorite oracle, Wikipedia, on this important subject and found some goodies.
Say "cheese" is an instruction used by photographers who want their subject to smile. By saying "cheese", most people form their mouths into what appears to be a smile-like shape. Additionally, the absurdity of saying "cheese" for no apparent reason can incite glee in some people. (INCITES GLEE!!! Hilarious!)

In other cultures
Perhaps due to strong Western influence, especially in the realm of photography, and perhaps due to increased numbers of Western visitors after photographic equipment became widely available, the phrase "Say cheese" has also entered into the Japanese language. However, the word "say" is almost always dropped from the phrase, resulting in the phrase simply being "Cheese." This is usually pronounced in Japanese (and written in katakana) as "chiizu".

Other languages have adopted this method, albeit with different words that sound similar to cheese to get the desired effect of shaping the mouth to form a smile.

In China, the word used is 茄子 (qie2zi), meaning "eggplant."
In Korea, one says "kimchi."
In France and other French-speaking countries, the word "ouistiti," meaning marmoset, is often used.
In most Latin American countries, the phrase used is "Diga 'whiskey'" ("Say 'whiskey'").
In Spain, the usual word is "patata" ("potato").
In Brazil the phrase is "Olha o passarinho" ("Look at the little bird") or "Digam 'X'" ("Say 'X'").
In Denmark, "Sig 'appelsin'", meaning "Say 'orange'" is often used.
In Sweden, "Säg 'omelett'", meaning "Say 'omelette'" is often used.
In Finland, "Muikku" is the word often used by photographers to make people smile.
In Thailand, "Pepsi" meaning same a popular soft drink produces is often used.
In Japan, "Sei, No..." meaning "1 and 2" is often used.
In Germany, food-related words like "Spaghetti" , "Käsekuchen" (cheesecake) or "Schwanz" are used, mainly to make children laugh for the picture

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