"Something seems to have come over one of the world's best known boogeymen," wrote the New York Times correspondent Patrick Tyler from Tripoli about the new willingness of the Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi to submit to weaponry inspections. \nI was about to take my colleague to task for failing to hyphenate "best known" when using it as a compound adjective. But suddenly a sense of dread hit me: why "boogeyman," with the double O directing its pronunciation like "cookie," and not spelled with a single O, to be pronounced like the golf term for 1 over par on a single hole? \nA hurried call to Daniel Schorr, senior analyst for National Public Radio and my consultant on pronunciation shift, confirmed my suspicion: "Yeah, when I was a kid in the Bronx, we used to say `boogieman,' but now, generations later, I'd say `bogeyman.' Maybe it has something to do with the term of endearment for Humphrey Bogart." \nA couple of days later, a letter appeared in The Washington Post under the headline "527 `Bogeyman' Poses No Threat." The subject was "the most recent `monster' that supposedly threatens democracy -- the `527 organizations' so named for a section of the tax code." The writer, Nan Aron, refused to be "distracted by ill-informed or cynical efforts to lead a mob against this latest bogeyman." \nAt the same time, the foreign affairs analyst John Vinocur was writing in The International Herald Tribune of the tendency of some European politicians in their continental disunity to adopt "the Bush bogeyman characterization." And covering the candidate Joe Lieberman's dogged refusal to pander to protectionists in Berlin, New Hampshire, the reporter Kareem Fahim wrote in The Village Voice: "Lieberman didn't bite -- even in this town where international trade is a bogeyman." \nIt's apparent that the boogieman, bogeyman and (in the US South) boogerman or buggabear is a monster, evil spirit, hobgoblin or chimera racing through our language, used by nefarious alarmists to frighten small children and innocent voters. He is known to Germans as Boggelmann, to the Irish as bocan, to the Scottish as boggart and to Icelanders as the linguistically related puki. Earliest citation I can find is in Old French, around 1200, as Bugibu, and in the Middle Ages the dark figure's name became synonymous with the Devil, one of whose names was "Old Bogey." There could be a connection with the scarifying "Boo!" \nIn the 1920s, because of the longtime association with blackness, "boogie" became a racial slur. It appeared as a derogatory noun in dialogue in novels by Dashiell Hammett in 1929 and Ernest Hemingway in 1937. In the mid-1920s, however, black jazz pianists came up with a percussive style of blues, marked by a heavy rhythmic bass in quadruple time that they called "boogie-woogie" (perhaps based on the West African bogi-bogi, "to dance"), and the reduplication may have ameliorated the slur. \nBy the 1940s, as a verb, "to boogie" was synonymous with "to cut a rug," later applied to energetic dancing without regard to race. (Other senses range from dried nasal mucus to "Colonel Bogey," a British golfer's mythical companion, and the subject of an old marching song resuscitated by the 1957 movie The Bridge on the River Kwai.) \nIn our time -- I'm speculating here -- the growing taboo against racial epithets, as well as an aversion to the frightening of children with "the boogieman will get you if you don't (whatever)," may have led to the reversion to the much earlier spelling and pronunciation of bogeyman. Though the "oh" and "oo" pronunciations are running neck and neck in a Google count, I'll bet "bogey" will win out. Who knows? Maybe Dan Schorr's hunch is right and Humphrey Bogart's nonfrightening ghost is doing it. \nBROAD \n"Where did the word `broad' come from as an offensive reference to a woman?" writes David Schwartz, a resident of Strasbourg, France, whose French wife is a professor of languages. \nLogic would indicate that it comes from voluptuous hips. In the song Honey Bun, from the musical South Pacific, the lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II had Nellie Forbush in a sailor suit note a woman's slender waist -- "as narrow as an arrow" and just below that, "she's broad where a broad should be broad." \nBut logic -- suggesting a relation to "broad in the beam" -- isn't always the best guide in slang etymology. Wendalyn Nichols, who was editor of the lamentably abandoned Random House dictionaries, opined in 2000 that "the word `broad' may come from an 18th-century slang use of the word to mean `playing card."' About the time of the Constitutional Convention in the US, the stiff pieces of paper used in the games (especially the sleight-of-hand game that duped the unwary called "three-card monte") were called "flats, cards and broads." To entice the suckers, the cardsharp would "toss the broads." The sinister sense of deceptiveness was then transferred, according to a 1914 slang lexicon, to "a female confederate" of "genteel grafters." \nYou don't like that hand? Want to cut the deck of flats and deal the broads again? Try this: The same lexicographers argue that a piece of cardboard is the root of it all: "`Broad' is derived from the far-fetched metaphor of `meal ticket,' signifying a female provider for a pimp, from the fanciful correspondence of a meal ticket to a railroad or other ticket." It was also cited in the early 20th century as a free ticket to a circus or a way of corrupting a ticket-collecting railroad conductor. \nNo matter how you shuffle this deck, the slang etymology of "broad" has to do with a piece of paper that gets into mischief. In today's slang, a "broad" -- as Frank Sinatra liked to characterize the fair sex, now treated more fairly -- is nicer than a "slut" but is not as trustworthy as a "dame" or as companionable as a "babe."
The small Baltic nation of Lithuania last week announced that it would accept a Taiwanese representative office in its capital, Vilnius, and that it would establish its own trade office in Taiwan by the end of the year. This was more than a welcome announcement to Taiwan and goes far beyond the normal establishment of trade relations. Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis summed it up succinctly, boldly saying: “Freedom-loving people should look out for each other.” With these words, Landsbergis was purposefully going beyond normal diplomacy; he was also presenting a moral challenge and reminder to other democratic nations. A look
On a peaceful day in the open Pacific Ocean to the east of Taiwan, a US carrier and five accompanying warships were slowly sailing to guard the western Pacific. Another carrier battle group had just returned to its home port in San Diego. Suddenly, alarms went off as many intercontinental ballistic missiles were launched from the interior of China, flying toward Taiwan. Numerous Chinese warships, carriers, fighter jets, bombers and submarines were fast converging on the US ships. Not too long after, missiles, bombs and torpedoes were fired at the US carrier. The surprise to Americans was the number of
Having deceived the world about its nuclear capabilities while preparing for an arms race, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is now using its increasing nuclear forces for virtual nuclear coercion. This new threat will continue until the United States, Japan, and Taiwan can restore the CCP’s sense of fear. This dynamic is a familiar one for Taiwan. As the CCP’s People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) capabilities have grown, its inhibitions about conducting larger and more frequent coercive military demonstrations have shrunk. The PLA now more openly practices for the destruction of Taiwan’s democracy and the murder of its citizens. In the nuclear realm,
The Tokyo Olympics will perhaps be remembered as one of the oddest Games in the event’s long and checkered history. Held amid a global pandemic, spectators are banned from most venues, leaving athletes to play out their feats of sporting brilliance in eerie silence. Meanwhile, furious Tokyo residents wave placards outside some venues, calling for the Games’ cancelation. Adding to the incongruity of it all, the entire Russian team is absent, banned due to a doping scandal. That the Tokyo Olympics went ahead at all has been extremely contentious in Japan. Critics fear a mass outbreak of the highly contagious Delta