Dr. Goodword’s Language Blog

Bernie Madoff with our Dough

Bernie MadoffIt is pretty easy to make jokes from the sound of Russian names in English.  Putin is a joke itself in English. Jackendoff is a rare but real Russian name. (But we don’t go there on this website.) In Russian, Tolstoi means “fat”, so the great author’s name (as I may have mentioned before) can be translated into “Leo Fats”.

The media are having a field day noticing that Bernie Madoff made off with 60 or so billion dollars. Didn’t anyone wonder about the guy’s name for 25 years? You don’t get clues like that very often. What do we need, “Bernie Smakingoff”? Smakingoffwidjadoe? I know. It isn’t funny. That’s his mug shot up there.

And what about Vikram Pandit, the mook who was paid $38.2 million in 2008 alone to destroy CitiGroup, costing its stock to lose 77% of its value. No one thought of flipping the P in his name for the hint?

4 Responses to “Bernie Madoff with our Dough”

  1. Stephen Says:

    1) Bernie Madoff –
    It has long been my theory that people identify in their names their true character. When I heard it, Madoff seemed a classic example.
    Perhaps listening to that sound every day subliminally makes a person comply with the trait indicated by his name.
    To the Author of 100 Funniest Words: A book on this would be good.
    It works across languages – if I remember, occasionally a name in Portuguese (my 2nd language) gives a pun clue in English or vice versa. But mainly it’s direct.
    My name is Fry – havent yet discovered how this applies to me. Perhaps I will screw everything up (or already have). But my brothers and family are super-successful. Maybe it means free (German) – we are all free spirits.

    2) Could the author of 100 Funniest Words also do a book of
    100 most wonderful english expressions?
    e.g. to Throw a Wobbly
    I could make a collection of charming expressions in Brazilian Portuguese. – eg. Gatos Pingados (dripped cats)
    If at an event only a few people turned up or were left over at the end, you can say : just a few gatos pingados = .. dripped cats !
    Portuguese in Brazil has many such very neat expressions
    England’s Raining Cats and Dogs is not quite so neat ..

    Perhaps a worldwide collection could be made

    Portuguese has several prettily illustrative words
    e.g. Graca (c cedilha always) is the grace of god and also personal grace, and also indicates >humor:
    Gracas a Deus is Thanks be to God
    But if something “tem graca” – it means ” it is funny”
    “Nao tem graca” is ” that’s not funny”
    A keynote memory is finding the word Engracado means Funny
    in other words it is graceful to be funny: being funny continues to the Grace of Life..
    I thought: what a nice civilized basis for the civilization of a country/people!

    Stephen Fry

  2. Stephen Says:

    “The name is the father of the man”

    I posted yesterday that people’s names indicate their nature.
    “Madoff with the money” is an example.
    I said they sometimes cross languages, and today there is an example.
    Anyone in Brazil hearing Gov. Blagojevich was indicted for corruption would laugh as if at the obvious: in his argot, “blague”, pronounced “blag”, means a type of talk designed to deceive.
    And we all know the rest of the name is only generic suffixes.

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  4. Betsy Riley Says:

    and there’s “Holmes on Homes”–guy named Holmes who addresses issues with Home inspections.
    Dr. Darling is an OB/GYN. has a list of other doctors.
    Aptronyms are when your surname matches your occupation.
    If you took to the profession BECAUSE of your surname, that is Nominative Determinism.

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