Student or Learner
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?
I think it is an unsatisfactory collocation.
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."
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.
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.
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