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    #1

    sweet stench

    Here is what I hear from BBC: "There is a sweet stench of death pervading the whole of this neighborhood. "

    I cannot understand why "sweet" is collocated with "stench" to describe the devastating scene in the disaster-hit area.

    What does a native teacher think of it?

    Thanks!

    Jason

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: sweet stench

    Quote Originally Posted by jasonlulu_2000 View Post
    Here is what I hear from BBC: "There is a sweet stench of death pervading the whole of this neighborhood. "

    I cannot understand why "sweet" is collocated with "stench" to describe the devastating scene in the disaster-hit area.

    What does a native teacher think of it?

    Thanks!

    Jason
    I think it is a very odd phrase. There is nothing "sweet" about it.

  2. riquecohen's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: sweet stench

    I think it is an unsatisfactory collocation.

  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: sweet stench

    At certain stages of fermentation of parts/contents of dead bodies, they can smell sweetish along with the stench. It's not nice sweetness, but I'd take it to be a literal description of what the journalist smelt. Has anyone who's denying it been in a disaster zone with lots of dead bodies?

    "A dead and decomposing body smells like nothing else in this world...it is a rank smell that is just tinged with sweetness...try to imagine a piece of rotting meat over which someone has sprinkled a few drops of some cheap perfume."
    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/in...9153555AAq4GLD

  4. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: sweet stench

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    At certain stages of fermentation of parts/contents of dead bodies, they can smell sweetish along with the stench. It's not nice sweetness, but I'd take it to be a literal description of what the journalist smelt. Has anyone who's denying it been in a disaster zone with lots of dead bodies?

    "A dead and decomposing body smells like nothing else in this world...it is a rank smell that is just tinged with sweetness...try to imagine a piece of rotting meat over which someone has sprinkled a few drops of some cheap perfume."
    What does a dead human body smell like? - Yahoo! Answers
    I spent 17 days at the World Trade Center disaster site. When the dead bodies began to smell, the stench was bad enough to gag a maggot. I perceived no sweetness at all.

  5. Raymott's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: sweet stench

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    I spent 17 days at the World Trade Center disaster site. When the dead bodies began to smell, the stench was bad enough to gag a maggot. I perceived no sweetness at all.
    Yes, there are environmental factors to take into account; time since death, etc.

    Here's a pathologists story:
    "But Id never smelled anything like that putrefied body; it was an overwhelming odor, dense, wet, vile, almost shockingly sweet,..."
    Jonathan Hayes ? Notes On Forensic Medicine: Smell

    In any event, I'm inclined to believe the guy who was there.

  6. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: sweet stench

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Yes, there are environmental factors to take into account; time since death, etc.

    Here's a pathologists story:
    "But I’d never smelled anything like that putrefied body; it was an overwhelming odor, dense, wet, vile, almost shockingly sweet,..."
    Jonathan Hayes ? Notes On Forensic Medicine: Smell

    In any event, I'm inclined to believe the guy who was there.
    I suspect that what one smells is a bit individualized. Nobody really knows what another person smells.

  7. Raymott's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: sweet stench

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    I suspect that what one smells is a bit individualized. Nobody really knows what another person smells.
    So it's irresponsible for a journalist to say that it smelt sweet, because smells are too subjective? Can't we just accept that maybe there was actually a "a sweet stench of death pervading the whole of this neighborhood."?

  8. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: sweet stench

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    So it's irresponsible for a journalist to say that it smelt sweet, because smells are too subjective? Can't we just accept that maybe there was actually a "a sweet stench of death pervading the whole of this neighborhood."?
    We can accept anything, but we don't have to agree.

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    #10

    Re: sweet stench

    On a Greek holiday some years ago, my walk to the beach each day involved walking past the decaying body of a cat which had been run over. Despite the fact that the smell was quite revolting, it was also a "sweet" smell. That sweetness was not present every day, only for the middle five days or so. At the beginning, it didn't smell of much and towards the end, it had the classic rotten meat smell.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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