Winston Churchill, KBO

Damien Hall djh514 at YORK.AC.UK
Sun Jan 17 17:18:57 UTC 2010

Jon speculated that 'buggering' in 'Keep Buggering On' couldn't be a mere
expletive. It isn't. In a sentence with that form, it _could_ be a mere
expletive: that is, it could be emphatically inserted into the phrasal verb
_keep on_, though it would be more likely to qualify a noun and mean
'exasperating', as in "I've got to finish this e-mail and get on with my
buggering presentation", where the presentation has nothing to do with
sodomy but is something I would rather not do. Synonyms in that sense
include _fucking_, _bloody_, etc.

Churchill, though, was using the phrasal verb _bugger on_, of which it's
very difficult for me to find definitions (or examples) from my desk, apart
from his. Anyway, it means 'persist in a difficult undertaking against long
odds (and possibly to the annoyance of someone trying to thwart you, in
this case the Axis). So it was his way of encouraging interlocutors, and
the British people at large, to maintain the wartime struggle.


Damien Hall

University of York
Department of Language and Linguistic Science
YO10 5DD

Tel. (office) +44 (0)1904 432665
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