Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Clegg and shag-hag-dreg-prig

This conclusion from S Richards (my emphasis):
In the middle of an election campaign the thoughtful cabinet minister is offered an answer to what the profound change might be amidst the crises and scandals. For now it comes in the form of a single word: Clegg.

Remarkable in any event but particularly so given what K Amis has to say here in his discussion of symbolic forms ('that class of word that stands somewhere between onomatopoeic words like cuckoo and sizzle on the one hand and ordinary non-echoic words like beauty and bedstead on the other'). The word that attracts Amis's attention is pig, and having dealt with its unfortunate beginning of 'pi-', one it shares with pimp, pish and piss, he moves across to its ending:
To take the other end of the word, of monosyllables with a short vowel ending in '-g', a large number again convey contempt, some of them again indelicate and several of them slang: bag, cag [?], drag, fagslag, nag (in two senses), shag, hag, dreg, prig (archaic slang for a thief), frig, bog, hog, wog, quag (mire), bug (in two senses), slug, mug (in two senses), smug - and when we meet Silas Wegg in Our Mutual Friend, we know at once he will be up to no good.

But when first introduced to Nick Clegg - far from knowing 'at once he will be up to no good' - most of us appear to fall at his feet. What's more, clegg could easily have made Amis's list as it's another name for the horsefly, that most unpleasant insect.

Either NC's charisma is so vast as to blot out the connotation of his name, or it has all been an unfortunate oversight that will soon be rectified. But who knows? Normal rules appear to have been suspended.


Gadjo Dilo said...

And does anybody remember "Bert Fegg's Nasty Book For Boys And Girls"? Regarding Dickens, I fear that one always knows exactly what any character will be up to immediately upon reading his or her name :-)

Brit said...

I always thought Pigbag was a great name for a band. You may recall their instrumental smash hit 'Papa's got a brand new pigbag'. It's the one with the horns going Bababa Bup, Baba daa daa.

They were from Cheltenham, you know.

Sean said...

Its interesting that he sought to be a "from my city of Sheffield" MP. Clegg is not an uncommon name around the area, maybe he thought it was and is a good way to hide his, Westminster school, Russian aristocrat, Banker father profile.

Hallam where I used to live is now full of university types suckling on the states teets, it used to be full of Sheffield industrial small holders, we have all decamped to the peak.

Maybe the answer to his angst over why there is a wide life expectancy gap between north and south Sheffield is understood through the fact he now finds himself to be a MP called Clegg "from Sheffield"

Take it from me, Ive meet him, he is a first rate Twat.

Sean said...

Btw, brit, any town like Cheltenham that has 2 councilors representing something called "People Against Bureaucracy" deserves more fame than given to them by Pigbag.

worm said...

I have had an aversion to cleggs since a young age. as a voracious reader of 2000ad comic, I was introduced to Judge Dredd's arch nemesis, the evil race of cruel reptilian aliens, The Kleggs.

from wikipedia:

A Klegg looks rather like a large man with green, scaly skin and the head and tail of an alligator or crocodile. They only take payment in meat, since they are pure carnivores. They are reasonably intelligent, but their ferocity and propensity for eating their foes dominate others' perception of them.

Coincidence? I think not.

Gaw said...

Gadjo: No I don't. Sounds traumatising. Are you over it yet? Bert Fegg - what a great name.

Brit: I'd forgotten about them. Wasn't it Celtic ska or something like that? Ah, I too spent time in the hell that was 'Nam.

Sean: For once Sean, I will take that from you without contradiction.

Worm: Excellent catch and one I haven't seen mentioned before. It also justifies Amis's thesis - what else would you use for 'an evil race of cruel reptilian aliens' than a monosyllabic word ending in -g? And the 'K-' gives it an appropriately alien Germanic feel (no offence to your lovely wife).