In the war of words between Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, we have to declare that Kim (or at least his translator) is the clear winner when it comes to trading insults. While Trump has called Kim ‘rocket man’ and a ‘madman’, the first sounds childish and the second is unoriginal. Kim, on the other hand, called Trump a ‘dotard’ and that had people scrambling for their dictionaries. Liz Posner says that the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “an old person, especially one who has become weak or senile”, meaning someone in his ‘dotage’ I guess.
According to the Associated Press:
[Korean Central News Agency] may have simply resorted to a Korean-English dictionary. Putting “neukdari” into a popular online Korean-English dictionary in South Korea returns two English equivalents: an “aged (old) person” and a “dotard.”
There has been a widening linguistic divide between the rival Koreas, but “neukdari” has the same meaning in North Korea as in the South, according to a South Korean organization involved in a now-stalled project to produce a joint dictionary.
The Korean version of Friday’s dispatch places “michigwangi,” which means a mad or crazy person, before “neukdari,” so a more accurate translation might have been a “crazy old man” or an “old lunatic.”
It looks like any of those alternatives would have Trump too.