An Australian thing has been named the world’s ugliest creature and I can assure you it wasn’t me. The honours went to the blobfish. Just look at that thing up there. Not only is it ugly, it’s dribbling!
Do you believe in evolution? Having seen the blobfish, the evidence for it is quite compelling. It really does look like that at some stage in the passing of time a blobfish morphed into my favourite classical composer, Anton Bruckner. Take a look…
Yes, Anton wasn’t a particularly handsome chappie, and he never managed to convince a woman to marry him, but he composed some truly wonderful music.
Reports of blobfish’s triumph in the ugly pageant made headlines all around the world. Here are some samples (click on the headline to call up the story in each language):
FRENCH: Le Huffington Post: Animal le plus moche du monde: le blobfish, poisson des abysses, remporte le concours (The ugliest animal in the world: the blobfish, a deepwater fish, wins the competition).
SPANISH: minutouno.com: El Blobfish es el nuevo animal más feo del mundo (The blobfish is the newly crowned most ugly animal in the world).
PORTUGUESE: primeirahora.com.br: Conheça o Blobfish, o animal mais feio do planeta (Meet the blobfish, the ugliest animal on the planet).
ITALIAN: unionesarda.it: L’animale più brutto del Mondo? E’ il Blobfish, il pesce “triste”(The ugliest animal in the world? It’s the blobfish, the ‘sad’ fish).
ROMANIAN: realitatea.net had a clever, teasing headline: A fost votat cel mai urât animal din lume. Vezi cum arată (It was voted the ugliest animal in the world. See how it looks) but the link is now broken. Here’s an alternative report from timpul.md: A fost ales CEL MAI URÂT ANIMAL de pe Pământ (It was voted the ugliest animal on the planet).
Note how none of these languages seems to have a word for blobfish; that’s because they’ve never seen these ugly creatures before in their lives. They don’t want any blobfish in their territorial waters, their fish tanks or in their lexicon. And who can blame them?
How do you say “ugly” in my five Romances?
- In French it’s moche, as used by Le Huffington Post, but you can also say laid (or laide in the feminine singular). C’est d’un laid means “it’s hideous!”, so does est d’une laideur, while un laideron means an ugly girl or Plain Jane; moche comme um pou would be translated into English as “as ugly as sin” but it literally means as ugly as a louse (les poux = lice).
- In Portuguese it’s feio or feia in the feminine singular. You can say feio como o pecado or como o diabo, which means as ugly as sin or as ugly as the devil. Um patinho feio is an ugly duckling, and fazer feio means to cut a sorry figure.
- In Spanish it’s feo or fea, and again más feo que un pecado means as ugly as sin. You can also say más feo que Picio, a chap who was famed for his ugliness (there’s a short entry on him in the Spanish Wikipedia here). Un patito feo is an ugly duckling.
- In Italian the word for ugly is brutto, and the Italian expression for as ugly as sin is actually as ugly as hunger – brutto come la fame. An ugly duckling is un brutto anatroccolo.
- In Romanian it’s urât (urâtâ in its feminine singular form). Din cauza vremii urâte (that’s the feminine plural form) means due to bad weather(s). Mi-e urât means I feel lonely, which seems to suggest that as far as Romanians are concerned, only ugly people can feel lonely.
And how do you say blob?
Most often, it seems the Romance language equivalent is the word for drop or droplet.
- In French my dictionary offers une grosse gouette, gouette being a drop, grosse meaning big.
- In Portuguese it’s uma gota (drop, blob or tear, also gout) or uma bolha (blister, pimple, bubble, or in Brazilian Portuguese, an annoying person).
- In Spanish it’s also una gota, or un borrón (blot, blemish, smudge).
- In Italian it’s una goccia, similar to gota in Spanish and Portuguese.
- In Romanian it’s also the word for drop, o picâturâ.
THE GENIUS OF BRUCKNER
Now let’s make it up to Anton Bruckner. How dare anyone compare him to a blobfish! Let’s play the item below as a sign of respect. Conductor Simon Rattle offers his thoughts on what is probably Bruckner’s most popular symphony, and why he is such a majestic composer.
In Defense of the Blobfish (blogs.smithsonianmag.com)