Nick Nicholas has a typically detailed, informative, and enjoyable post about an obscure medieval word that’s turned up in various modern Greek dialects as well as a much more unexpected place. I’ll let you discover the facts over at Ἡλληνιστεύκοντος; me, I couldn’t resist the following (clears throat, grabs mike):

There’s this word that’s been on my mind
All the time, fu-fu-fufudio oh oh
The dictionaries don’t know its name
But I think it’s a real word just the same
Fu-fu-fufudio oh oh
The Russians got it from the Byzantines
Now they don’t even know what it means
But they called it fofudia back in the day
I feel so good if I just say the word
Fu-fu-fufudio, just say the word
Oh fu-fu-fufudio

Now they use fofudia down in Ukraine
LiveJournalists claim to be Russians in pain
Fu-fu-fufudio oh oh
“They won’t let my daughter wear fofudia at school
How long must I endure their rule?”
Fu-fu-fufudio oh oh
“How long, how long must this go on?”
They sound sincere, but they’re having fun
They make the xenophobes feel scared
But they feel so good if they just say the word
Fu-fu-fufudio, just say the word
Oh fu-fu-fufudio, oh


  1. You do not disappoint!

    Well, except for being familiar with post-Genesis Phil Collins. 🙂

  2. I hated that song back in the day, but it stuck in my head, as hit songs will, and… well, you see the result. Believe me, I feel my shame.

  3. Darkmotherscream is a Siberian dance,
    cry from prison or a yell for help,
    or, perhaps, God has another word for it –
    ominous little grin – darkmotherscream.

    Darkmotherscream is the ecstasy of the sexual gut;
    We let the past sink into darkmotherscream also.
    You, we – oooh with her eyes closed
    woman moans in ecstasy – darkmother, darkmotherscream.

    Darkmotherscream is the original mother of languages.
    It is silly to trust mind, silly to argue against it.
    Prognosticating by computers
    We leave out darkmotherscream.

    “How’s it going?” Darkmotherscream.
    “Motherscream! Motherscream!”
    “OK, we’ll do it, we’ll do it.”

    The teachers can’t handle darkmotherscream.
    That is why Lermontov is untranslatable.
    When the storm sang in Yelabuga,
    What did it say to her? Darkmotherscream.

    Meanwhile go on dancing, drunker and drunker.
    “Shagadam magadam – darkmotherscream.”
    Don’t forget – Rome fell
    not having grasped the phrase: darkmotherscream.

  4. J.W. Brewer says

    In an Anglophone context, “fufudio” sounds like something you’d order from the bartender at a low-class joint when your judgment was already arguably impaired by having drunk too much wine spo-dee-o-dee.

  5. fufú is a starchy vegetable food from West Africa and the Caribbean, including Miami in some Cuban restaurants.


  6. But what’s the etymology?

  7. Fo-fudia sounds to me precisely like a children’s jingle take on fudia, “to fuck” preterite imperfect, taboo word, Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation.

  8. Lane, s.v. fūf ‘pellicle’ includes “a sort of burūd of El-Yemen: thin, variegated or figured garments of El-Yemen.” And Serjeant quotes, ‘Azimuddin Ahmad, op. cit., p. 83: “Burd mufawwaf has white stripes (khatt) on it, and al-burūd al-mufawwafa are of the weave (nasdj) of the Yemen.”

  9. @SFReader: Lurkmore’s fofud’ya entry deserves to be linked in its entirety. Not for the faint-hearted or fastidious.

    @gtrf: My first guess was, “it’s a word-by-word rip-off of Yevtushenko’s Skrymtymnym.” After googling, I realized it was a bona fide translation. Unfortunately, “darkmotherscream” does not convey the darkly chtonic feel of skrymtymnym. It’s more akin to Cthulhu fhtagn, only more earth-like – tenebrous, subterranean.

  10. And under the transparent pseudonym “Yevtushenko” you conceal the identity of Voznesensky! Скрымтымным!!

  11. The chthonic equivalent of Cthulhu is Shudde-M’ell, discussed in Brian Lumley’s The Burrowers Beneath.

  12. David Marjanović says

    My new favorite Slavo-Turkic hybrid curse.

  13. @John Cowan: It always struck me as inappropriate for Lumley to use that title from “The Haunter of the Dark.” If Robert Bloch had used that name, I think that would have been fine, but another writer using just seems tacky, even though it was undoubtedly meant as an homage.

  14. As a Russian saying goes “for some fof, for some fofudya, and for some fofud’s daughter”.

  15. David Marjanović says

    Not for the faint-hearted or fastidious.

    Or those prone to getting lost in timesinks.

  16. @MMcM: thank you. My sources vaguely gesticulated at a Persian etymology, but had not come up with anything specific.

  17. I tried to post the comment cited below. As I had predicted, it vanished, but now at last I know who is responsible for all those strange disappearances.

    This is what I wrote (I am ensconcing it in more English for extra protection): “ІЗІЖБК made my day. If this comment disappears because it begins with some Cyrillic characters, blame the Жьідобандеровцьі.”

  18. These Жьідобандеровцьі were my favorite thing at the Lurkmore article.

  19. Brett: Considering that almost 40 years had elapsed between Bloch’s last Cthulhu Mythos short stories and Lumley’s first novel, I don’t think that Bloch had any moral claim on it any more. (Titles, as you probably know, are not copyrightable.) WP points to the original title of a Fritz Leiber story (changed before publication) and a Robert M. Price Hyperborean story, both “The Burrower Beneath”.

  20. @LH: Voznesensky, of course. I don’t know why I typed “Yevtushenko” and didn’t notice the error even as I checked the link and the web page had Voznesensky’s name in big blue letters staring at me. It just happens to me from time to time.

  21. Happens to all of us, and it’s reassuring to know I’m not alone!

  22. Collins on the etymology:

    This is one of those examples of improvising lyrics. You know, sometimes you can use the lyric, other times you’re in big trouble, because what you write doesn’t mean anything. So I set up this drum-machine pad, and I got some chords, and I started to sing into the microphone, and this word came out, which was “sus-sussudio.” It just literally came out, at the time… that was back when I could dance, so I kind of knew I had to find something else for that word, then I went back and tried to find another word that scanned as well as “sussudio,” and I couldn’t find one, so I went back to “sussudio.”

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