Braggadocious, Vietnamese for dog, yeah: adventures in language

It’s so often out there, not here at the screen, that ideas percolate…

True enough, if I wasn’t a lover of words and language I would probably be in the wrong line of business. Here are a few things that have caught my eye — or made my ears prick up — recently.

  1. Braggadocious:

    Whatever your views of The Donald, I owe to him my discovery of this delicious word. (According to an article in The New York Times, viewers of the Sept. 2016 presidential debate during which Trump used the b word also looked up “temperament” and “stamina” in Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary.)

    The word braggadocious can’t fail to remind me of stocious (if you’ve never heard of it, here’s a clue: St Patrick’s Day revelry). Or in homage to Miss Poppins: expialidocious.

  2. Dufus (more usual spelling: doofus, Merriam-Webster tells me):

    I heard this recently on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, in a discussion about how TV advertising can be keen on portraying men as, well, less than at the height of their competence. Whatever its connotations, it’s a delight of a word to my ears.

    Urban Dictionary defines du/oofus as “A kindly way of saying that one is stupid. Certainly much nicer than calling someone a f&ckwit*, anyway.” This is true.

    (*”Sorry Maureen.” If you’re familiar with Nick Hornby’s “A Long Way Down”, you may still remember Maureen. If not, you’re in for a grand read.)

    Screenshot from

  3. Excited (for or about)?

    Are you excited *for* Easter? I read that as being thrilled on behalf of the religious and cultural festival. Or perhaps you’re excited *about* cracking open that egg while you spend time with family and friends.

    The two prepositions seem to be interchangeable now.

    For example Steve Wright, he of the afternoon factoids on Radio 2, said “excited for…” (I didn’t catch the rest of the sentence) only the other day. Puzzled I remain.

  4. Most biggest:

    Don’t get me started. Really, don’t. Perhaps I’ve failed to understand and this is really something very large. Like the national debt. Or Greenland.

    I reserve judgement… it may just be that I need to understand this more better.

  5. Said:

    Of course how can we not care about the fate of the African elephant, the Yangtze River dolphin and the giant anteater of Brazil? (Thank you WWF’s Living Planet Report 2016.) But spare a thought also for the humble verb “to say”.

    OK, so spoken language constantly evolves. But I would love to hear an explanation of how, when and why so many people seem to have started saying, “He was like… She was like” to recount a conversation.

    If I have time to look into this when I’m next working at the British Library; perhaps many a linguist has already answered that question…

  6. Translations:

    Either I’d forgotten or didn’t know about this, but I’ve just stumbled on the translations section of Collins’ online dictionary. Perhaps unsurprisingly, foreign equivalents aren’t available for every word. (Dufus being one example.)

    But take the word “dog”, or Hund in German. Knowing that it’s the same in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish enriches my day, at least. You can also listen to the Russian and Vietnamese spoken equivalents with the click of your mouse.


    (Among the memories I cherish from teaching: children’s enthusiasm to respond in any language, including their home language of course, during twice-daily registration. Little, often…)

  7. Yeah:

    I’ve seen that fairly often in texts. Isn’t it technically quicker to write “yes”? (Yes, I’ve heard about predictive text. I’ve also been told that you don’t always have to round off each text with “Yours sincerely”.) Again I may be missing the point.

    That’s it for blog #2. Easter will soon be with us. Here’s to a restful, happy and peaceful time for us all, whatever our language — or however anyone speaks.

    Come back soon to read my next blog. Yeah?

    (Some 23 local retailers take part in Penge’s Easter egg trail organised by @thepengetourist & Penge Traders Association.)

16 comments on “Braggadocious, Vietnamese for dog, yeah: adventures in language

  1. Adria J. Cimino on

    Very interesting! I like the “excited for or about” and the “said” as I hear these all the time… Spoken language and slang have really changed what people consider acceptable language!

    • Brian McGee on

      Thanks a lot Adria. I’m glad you found it interesting… I agree, “for/about” is a real source of puzzlement. The quicksands of language!

  2. Hilary on

    Golly Moses! as my mother used to say. Some of those phrases deserve more airtime, and some we can definitely live without (including Golly Moses I think).
    Keep them coming Brian!

    • Brian McGee on

      Many thanks Hilary. Stone the crows*, I’ve not heard that expression used by your mother for ages. I’m looking forward to regular blogging. Watch this space! (*What did the crows do to deserve that?)

  3. Len Blomstrand on

    Well said (in relation to said)! I thought this phenomenon was restricted to conversations between schoolgirls on the bus, but I have seen it in print on three occasions during the past three days. Sheryl Sandberg (of Facebook) in Saturday’s Guardian, the actor Bob Odenkirk in yesterday’s Observer and Prince Harry (no less) in today’s Daily Mail.

  4. Stephen Shillito on

    A great post on the complexities and evolution of our everyday language! Recent favourite sayings from those of a different generation: “she/he was so (like) random”. (I’ll take that to mean spontaneous!); and in discussion with friends recently they sad many of their North American friends were rather fond of the phrase, “I don’t have the words”!

    • Brian McGee on

      Many thanks for your comment on this blog, Stephen. Grand to hear that you enjoyed it. “I don’t have the words” — yes, I’ve heard that a couple of times. The North-American cousin to “I’m gobsmacked,” an expression I always associate with NW England. Perhaps it’s used in other places too?


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