Showing posts with label supernatural. Show all posts
Showing posts with label supernatural. Show all posts

bogy, bogey, boogie, booger

I had a house-guest this week, and since I'm a bit behind in things, I was thinking I'd answer a really simple query. So, heading back to the April correspondence, I found Doug of Colorado writing about boogers in my inbox. I thought, 'oh, I'll do bogy and booger, that'll be quick!' But even as I began to write the title for this post, I reali{s/z}ed that this is going to get out-of-hand very quickly.

So, we start with snot. (Which just reminds me of Chiffon margarine ads from my American childhood: When you think it's butter, but it's not, it's Chiffon! That jingle writer did not have a good ear for potential mondegreens. We eight-year-olds thought it was hilarious.) Bits of fairly dry nasal mucus (you know what I mean) are colloquially called bogies (or bogeys) in BrE and boogers in AmE. The first vowel in the AmE version is generally pronounced like the oo in book. This is also the vowel that is found in the usual AmE pronunciation of the originally-AmE word boogie ('to [disco] dance'), though many BrE speakers pronounce it with a long /u/ sound, so that the first syllable is like the sound that a cartoon ghost would make (Boo!). In fact, the OED has only the boo! pronunciation, while the American Heritage has both, with the book-vowel one listed first. The long /u/ is also used for both oos in the usual BrE pronunciation of (orig. AmE) boogie-woogie, while AmE uses the book vowel for both.

It was only when I looked up bog(e)y in the OED that I discovered that one of the golf senses for bogey, 'a score of one stroke above par for a hole' (OED), is (or possibly was) AmE. The first (BrE) definition in the OED, 'The number of strokes a good player may be reckoned to need for the course or for a hole', seems to me to mean 'par'. I don't know a lot about golf (and I count myself lucky for that), but I only knew the AmE meaning. (American golfers, do you know the more 'par-like' meaning?) For the verb bogey ('to complete (a hole) in one stroke over par'), the OED lists this as 'orig. U.S.' It's a bit hard to believe that the verb has come over here, but not the noun. UK golfers, what's your experience?

(Apparently bogey is also Australian slang for a bath, and bogie is a Northern English--particularly Newcastle--dialectal word for 'A kind of cart with low wheels and long shafts'. But now I'm just getting distracted by the OED.)

And then there's the bogeyman. American Heritage lists four alternative spellings for this: bogeyman, boogeyman, boogyman, boogieman. OED has only bogyman (listed under bog(e)y) plus an example with the e: Bogey man. The capital B in some examples reflects bog(e)y's origin as a 'quasi-proper name' (OED) for the Devil. The AmE variations in spelling reflect the fact that it has many pronunciations in the US (probably regional in nature). In the order the AHD presents them, they are:
  1. with the book vowel: bʊg'ē-măn'
  2. with the long /o/, as in the golfing term bogey
  3. with the long /u/, as in boo! or BrE boogie
Myself, I grew up (in western New York state) with the first pronunciation, and would naturally use the last AmE spelling, but somewhere along the line I became conscious of bogeyman as the 'correct' spelling. That didn't affect my pronunciation of it.

I have a tangentially related (because there's an oo involved) anecdote from this week. Our house-guest was an American linguist who lives in Japan. Predictably, there were BrE/AmE conversations, particularly about water. But the best part (for me, at least) was when she noted that the café called Moorish Brighton wasn't particularly 'Moorish'. I'd claimed before we went there that it was Moroccan, but we found that it had all sorts of Mediterranean foods. It was only when she pronounced the café's name that I reali{s/z}ed it was a pun. I'd been pronouncing the oo with a /u/-ish vowel (which is typical in BrE or AmE) and just not getting the joke. She pronounced it with an /o/-like vowel (which the OED lists as a BrE alternative, oh well). Eureka! Moorish Brighton is (BrE) moreish!
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AmE = American English
BrE = British English
OED = Oxford English Dictionary (online)