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.
I rather like “crazy old man” but “dotard” makes the North Koreans sound much more restrained and reasonable, well, as they were.
(This is a shortened version of a comment over at poopyhead’s.)
From the Online Etymology Dictionary:
And dote — “to be feeble-minded from age” — is even older, with origins in Middle Low German doten (“be foolish”).
Mark Dowd says
You could be Donald Trump in a war of words with hand gestures. Flipping the bird is more dignified than most of the shit he says.
Mark Dowd says
Correction: You could beat Donald Trump…
Marcus Ranum says
You can beat Trump in a war of words by staying silent and watching him punch himself in the face, dig a hole, climb in it, and pull dirt in on himself.
Bruce H says
Do you think Trump knows the first rule of holes? Even if he does know, his ego might not let him stop digging.