October 25th, 2012



I think it was last week's episode of Once Upon A Time where they had to fight an ogre. In the episode, they were talking about ogres, and Emma was like, "Ogres? Like, 'Fee fie fo fum'?" and her mom was like, "That's giants." I thought it was kind of odd, because I'd never heard of anybody switching giants and ogres around, so I wondered if it was a common thing. Then last night, we were watching a sort of old episode of Pair of Kings, and there was an ogre. And the ogre kept trying to say "Fee fie fo fum" and getting it wrong. So I thought, "Oh, is this where the confusion started?"

Well, since I like Pair of Kings much better than I like Once Upon A Time, of course I wanted to side with Pair of Kings, and so we started wondering where the term ogre came from, and if maybe "giant" was what the German version became in all the Grimm tales. Or if the German word used for "ogre" was translated to "giant" when it got to English. Suddenly fairy tales started to be interesting from a linguistic standpoint, which is really very fitting, since (according to the introduction in our Barnes & Noble Grimm collection) the whole reason the Grimm brothers compiled their collection was as a study of the German language.

And then, when we finally stopped working for today (later than we'd hoped), we started to do a little research and discovered that oh yeah, Jack and the Beanstalk is an English folktale. I really should have figured that out sooner, since the giant's chant goes "I smell the blood of an Englishman." That thought even occurred to me last night, and I wondered if it was just a localization. Manga and video games have thoroughly messed with my sense of geographic storytelling. So regardless of where the term "ogre" came from, "fee fie fo fum" has always been a giant thing. But that's okay, because in Pair of Kings, the ogre couldn't get it right, which means he was just a wannabe giant anyway. (Plus, he was pretty giant.)

Today I'm thankful for being done with work for the day, living in an age when it's so easy to look up random trivia, finally getting to watch the rest of that episode of Kamisama Kiss, the character we're really curious about being in the next episode (still not going to pay $8 to watch it; we'll just have to wait), and interesting new angles to look at fairy tales from.