In the story, the flatulence from the alien's sphincter is an integral part of its language (it used both orifices to communicate, and the noises it made with either orifice were incomprensible without the context of the noises made by the other).

The humans (or human) attempting to establish communication with it don't understand this, and dismiss any noises that don't issue from its mouth (or the orifice in its head) as irrelevant when trying to learn its language. This leads them to doubt its species is even sentient (iirc it may not have had clothes or tools they recognized as such either which would also have been part of it).

It may have been a short story rather than a novel.

I think I recall reading it either in the 90's or 80's (it most certainly wasn't written in the 00's).

It was definitely set on an alien planet rather than on earth.

I've a vague idea there might have been birds with four wings on the planet it was set in.

It may have been written at least in part from the aliens perspective.

Does anyone have any idea what the story I'm trying to remember is?

  • I would swear we've had this one before...
    – FuzzyBoots
    Dec 8, 2018 at 0:09
  • @FuzzyBoots : If you can remember where point me at it.
    – Pelinore
    Dec 8, 2018 at 0:10
  • 1
    @FuzzyBoots were you thinking of La Soupe aux Choux? OP - any chance you read that in French? As far as I know the movie is based on a novel which wasn't translated.
    – Jenayah
    Dec 8, 2018 at 0:13
  • That was another one that came to mind.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Dec 8, 2018 at 0:16
  • ^ @FuzzyBoots if you were thinking of La Soupe aux Choux I found that that one on my initial spin through the site & it's definately not that.
    – Pelinore
    Dec 8, 2018 at 0:17

1 Answer 1


Probably not the right one, but Kurt Vonnegut's "The Dancing Fool" from "Breakfast of Champions" has an alien that communicates with flatulence.

A flying saucer creature named Zog arrived on Earth to explain how wars could be prevented and how cancer could be cured. He brought the information from Margo, a planet where the natives conversed by means of farts and tap dancing.

Zog landed at night in Connectitut. He had no sooner touched down than he saw a house on fire. He rushed into the house, farting and tap dancing, warning the people about the terrible danger they were in. The head of the house brained Zog with a golf club.

  • nope it was set on an alien planet & the alien was being held in a pen or some such so not that one.
    – Pelinore
    Dec 8, 2018 at 0:19
  • This also flew into my mind immediately when I read the part 'communicates with farts'. I never thought any sane person would ever use this concept in a 'real' story...! Jan 28, 2020 at 19:56

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