[Ads-l] "Bugger"

Yagoda, Ben byagoda at UDEL.EDU
Mon Jul 11 15:06:53 EDT 2016


From:    Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU<mailto:laurence.horn at yale.edu>>
Subject: Re: "Bugger"

On Jul 11, 2016, at 1:53 PM, Yagoda, Ben <byagoda at UDEL.EDU<mailto:byagoda at udel.edu>> wrote:

Does anyone have any insight, citations, or data concerning American non-profane use of “bugger” (noun), as a mildly affectionate, mildly derisive diminutive, term, something like “rascal”? It goes pretty far back. In The American Language, (I’m quoting from 4th edition, 1936), Mencken writes, “When I was a small boy my father used it often, as an affectionate term for any young male, and if it shows any flavor of impropriety today, the fact must be due to British influence.”

In Edward Albee’s play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962), George and Martha’s never-seen child is often referred to as “the bugger” or “the little bugger.”

It may be the fact that George was played by Richard Burton, but I remember the character as pseudo-British, as befits a pompous and self-impressed professor of English literature (if memory serves) from that era, so I'm sure I did indeed process it as a Briticism.  Or was George's character in fact written as British by Albee?

LH

Actually, Laurence, the term is first used by another character, Honey (played by Sandy Dennis in the movie), then repeated up by George and Martha.—Ben

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