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  • How did I get 2 copies to upload.Must have bumbled a little there.

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    • Originally posted by Al Bundy's Eyes View Post

      Hi RJ,

      I can't see the Atlantic Divide myself. I would never have flagged "bumbling buffoon" for the reason that neither word is new or variable in meaning, like , for example "gay" or "punk". It's smacks of older language, which has been proved in this current argument, they're old terms. No debate.

      Likewise, your old flame who picked up localisms, well, that's essentially UK English through and through, so again, it's something of a moot point.

      So it's totally plausible that "bumbling buffoon" made sense to the ears of an LVP listener. It would have, really, that's hard to deny. So why is there no record of it? Not even in an alternative context like "one off"? It's plain not there so far. "Bungling" is, and it's no mental leap to reach "bumbling", but it's not there. "Bungling" is. "B--- Buffoon" is in various forms. But not the one phrase in question. Why is that?
      Hi Al,

      I could imagine a family doctor being described as a 'bumbler' - or bumbling fool, buffoon, idiot - like a bumble bee buzzing ineptly round his patient or the sick room. That would suit the context of Sir Jim's beef with Hopper's ministrations, despite his constant need for medical advice and attention! [Only just saw harry's example from 1890 as I posted this!]

      Bumble bees have been around forever, as has the word bumble, to describe their sounds and behaviour, so I don't see the absence/rarity of the exact two-word phrase 'bumbling buffoon' as an indication of a Barrett hoax only dating back to 1990. There are so many 'creature features' in the diary that one more doesn't bother me.

      Despite what RJ writes above, my only argument is that the language in the diary doesn't exclusively point to a Barrett hand in its creation, and I would argue - if I had the time and inclination to revisit all the existing correspondence and interviews by both parties - that the vocabulary used tends to point away from it. Where did the idea come from to give Hopper this funny little cameo performance anyway? He's almost sporting a fuzzy yellow and black jersey!

      In the 1980s, we had some dodgy catch phrases being used in London, such as "too risky", and "have a word" [anyone remember those?] I don't know where they came from, or how they gained traction in the pre internet age, but they quickly died a death from overuse, and by the time the older generation 'got with it', their use of such phrases would cause mirth or embarrassment, depending on whose parents were involved.

      Given the alternative bumble bee analogy, I don't think I need to argue for the diarist coming up with such a phrase independently, before some American wit, with influence and/or a large audience, used the same two words together to mean a floundering fool or inept idiot, and the phrase took on a life of its own because the context was particularly appropriate and popular. It's hardly in the same league of inventiveness as Hooty McOwlface or Boaty McBoatface, is it?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boaty_McBoatface

      There's a similarly alliterative phrase used in the diary that I guess would be a rarity, and this one does rub me up the wrong way:

      'Regret I could not tell the foolish fool'.

      Horrible.

      But is it Bongo McBarrettface horrible?

      Love,

      Caz
      X
      Last edited by caz; 09-02-2020, 09:43 AM. Reason: just saw the 1890 example from harry
      "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


      Comment


      • Just a couple of points with regard to Mike Barrett.

        One, I didn't meet the man, but considering all that I've read, and the few short video clips I've saw, I believe I've obtained a good idea of the kind of person he was. Having said that, in my opinion, bumbling buffoon is just the type of terminology I believe he would have used in his guise of a late Victorian cotton merchant. It's classic Barrett.

        Secondly, I've always maintained that Barrett was intelligent enough to compose the Diary, but here's the paradox, did he really really believe that the hand writing would stand up to scrutiny? Obviously he did, for he went ahead with the hoax. Did he take into consideration that there might not be examples of Maybrick's hand writing with which to compare the Diary? Or did he think what the hell, and went ahead with it anyway? I believe the latter. As I said, I think I have a fair understanding of Barrett's character, and he was thick enough to believe that he could get away with it.

        Comment


        • I've pondered on foolish fool also, in my opinion it's classic Barrett

          Comment


          • Originally posted by caz View Post
            Given the alternative bumble bee analogy, I don't think I need to argue for the diarist coming up with such a phrase independently, before some American wit, with influence and/or a large audience, used the same two words together to mean a floundering fool or inept idiot, and the phrase took on a life of its own because the context was particularly appropriate and popular. It's hardly in the same league of inventiveness as Hooty McOwlface or Boaty McBoatface, is it?

            Well, it's your digestive tract, Caz, and you can decide what you are willing to swallow, but I'm not having any of it.

            Language doesn't work in the way that you (and Al?) are suggesting.

            Yes, it's plastic, and we have the ability to uniquely link words together. ("Indefatigable penguin"---but who ever heard of that?).

            But, in the grand scheme of things, when someone uses a phrase -- "bumbling buffoon" --it isn't because they are having an independent and spontaneous brainstorm, is it? People repeat word patterns and the sounds of word patterns. They aren't reinventing language every time they open their mouths; they are aping combinations they have heard before--and, as is now increasingly obvious, the combination of "bumbling buffoon" only made its way into popular culture in the 1940s.

            The example that Harry uses of "bumbling fellow" is in an essay about bees called "The Wasp" that actually first appeared in the St. James Gazette on 22 April 1887. I had already noticed it, but it was just another rare example of "bumbling" being used in the context of bumble bees. If you read the whole essay, the author meant "fussy." The essay was popular enough that it was reprinted in other newspapers, and thus it almost single-handedly accounts for the hits for "bumbling" in the Victorian press. It was a 'one-off' and WAS an independent creation by a clever writer.

            But it is not used in the sense of 'bungling' that we get in bumbling buffoon. And thus you're still not finding anyone --except for 'Maybrick'--having thought to use the combination of bumbling + buffoon before 1949.

            And is that surprising? In 1887 we have James A. H. Murray, and his fellow Oxford scholars, stating that the adjective "bumbling" is obscure...ie., not in wide use. They are the ones that invented the OED, and were alive at the moment, so I'm guessing they knew what they were talking about.

            And we have two American authors in 1908 and 1916 respectively, under the strange impression that they had invented the adjective "bumbling" (And I fancy that the author of the St. James Gazette piece must have felt the same way). Why is that if the word was in wide circulation?

            And this is even without the word being linked to "buffoon."

            So, it seems to me, the choice is yours, as is an obvious one.

            You can believe that Maybrick/the old hoaxer independently invented an insult "bumbling buffoon," and that it just happened to become popular and widely used 70 years later...

            Or you can accept that the Diary was written at least 70 years later than you think it was...when the insult was already in wide circulation...

            Not really much of a choice, is it, considering the diarist also uses "one-off," has the modern obsession with Abberline, doesn't sound Victorian, and references a police inventory list under lock-and-key until a few years before Bongo Barrett came bumbling in?

            Personally, I think 'The Baron' nailed this one. "Bumbling buffoon" a verbal anachronism. But that's as far as I'm taking it.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post


              Well, it's your digestive tract, Caz, and you can decide what you are willing to swallow, but I'm not having any of it.

              Language doesn't work in the way that you (and Al?) are suggesting.

              Yes, it's plastic, and we have the ability to uniquely link words together. ("Indefatigable penguin"---but who ever heard of that?).

              But, in the grand scheme of things, when someone uses a phrase -- "bumbling buffoon" --it isn't because they are having an independent and spontaneous brainstorm, is it? People repeat word patterns and the sounds of word patterns. They aren't reinventing language every time they open their mouths; they are aping combinations they have heard before--and, as is now increasingly obvious, the combination of "bumbling buffoon" only made its way into popular culture in the 1940s.

              The example that Harry uses of "bumbling fellow" is in an essay about bees called "The Wasp" that actually first appeared in the St. James Gazette on 22 April 1887. I had already noticed it, but it was just another rare example of "bumbling" being used in the context of bumble bees. If you read the whole essay, the author meant "fussy." The essay was popular enough that it was reprinted in other newspapers, and thus it almost single-handedly accounts for the hits for "bumbling" in the Victorian press. It was a 'one-off' and WAS an independent creation by a clever writer.

              But it is not used in the sense of 'bungling' that we get in bumbling buffoon. And thus you're still not finding anyone --except for 'Maybrick'--having thought to use the combination of bumbling + buffoon before 1949.

              And is that surprising? In 1887 we have James A. H. Murray, and his fellow Oxford scholars, stating that the adjective "bumbling" is obscure...ie., not in wide use. They are the ones that invented the OED, and were alive at the moment, so I'm guessing they knew what they were talking about.

              And we have two American authors in 1908 and 1916 respectively, under the strange impression that they had invented the adjective "bumbling" (And I fancy that the author of the St. James Gazette piece must have felt the same way). Why is that if the word was in wide circulation?

              And this is even without the word being linked to "buffoon."

              So, it seems to me, the choice is yours, as is an obvious one.

              You can believe that Maybrick/the old hoaxer independently invented an insult "bumbling buffoon," and that it just happened to become popular and widely used 70 years later...

              Or you can accept that the Diary was written at least 70 years later than you think it was...when the insult was already in wide circulation...

              Not really much of a choice, is it, considering the diarist also uses "one-off," has the modern obsession with Abberline, doesn't sound Victorian, and references a police inventory list under lock-and-key until a few years before Bongo Barrett came bumbling in?

              Personally, I think 'The Baron' nailed this one. "Bumbling buffoon" a verbal anachronism. But that's as far as I'm taking it.


              And this post of you is an honour Sir!



              The Baron

              Comment


              • has anyone taken an in depth look at barretts writings, like his articles he wrote for the magazines, to see if there are any words/phrases, like bumbling buffoon , in there that are also in the diary?
                Last edited by Abby Normal; 09-02-2020, 12:44 PM.
                "Is all that we see or seem
                but a dream within a dream?"

                -Edgar Allan Poe


                "...the man and the peaked cap he is said to have worn
                quite tallies with the descriptions I got of him."

                -Frederick G. Abberline

                Comment


                • Originally posted by Abby Normal View Post
                  has anyone taken an in depth look at barretts writings, like his articles he wrote for the magazines, to see if there are any words/phrases, like bumbling buffoon , in there that are also in the diary?
                  Not to my knowledge, but the reason I keep bringing up that the phrase was more popular in America is not only because of the ngrams, but because the phrase "bumbling buffoon" only turns up 5 times in the 1990s (plus a repeater) in UK newspapers currently digitized at the British Newspaper archives. This is a very small number compared to the American press. There may be other examples still to be found, due to OCR errors.

                  One of these 5 is in the Liverpool Echo on 18 September 1992, in a review of a Liverpool play "The 19th Hole."

                  Tony Devereux worked at The Echo, but retired and died the previous year. The Diary, of course, emerged several months earlier than this column. The reviewer's name is Lew Baxter, and he was evidently The Echo's staff movie reviewer, because he has his own column throughout the 1980s and 90s--reviews of plays and movies, which is where I'm finding the majority of the examples of "bumbling buffoon." Being the compositor, Devereux would have known Baxter, not that that necessarily means anything.

                  Click image for larger version  Name:	Liverpool Echo, 18 September 1992.JPG Views:	0 Size:	49.7 KB ID:	741109
                  Last edited by rjpalmer; 09-02-2020, 01:26 PM.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post


                    Well, it's your digestive tract, Caz, and you can decide what you are willing to swallow, but I'm not having any of it.

                    Language doesn't work in the way that you (and Al?) are suggesting.

                    Yes, it's plastic, and we have the ability to uniquely link words together. ("Indefatigable penguin"---but who ever heard of that?).

                    But, in the grand scheme of things, when someone uses a phrase -- "bumbling buffoon" --it isn't because they are having an independent and spontaneous brainstorm, is it? People repeat word patterns and the sounds of word patterns. They aren't reinventing language every time they open their mouths; they are aping combinations they have heard before--and, as is now increasingly obvious, the combination of "bumbling buffoon" only made its way into popular culture in the 1940s.

                    The example that Harry uses of "bumbling fellow" is in an essay about bees called "The Wasp" that actually first appeared in the St. James Gazette on 22 April 1887. I had already noticed it, but it was just another rare example of "bumbling" being used in the context of bumble bees. If you read the whole essay, the author meant "fussy." The essay was popular enough that it was reprinted in other newspapers, and thus it almost single-handedly accounts for the hits for "bumbling" in the Victorian press. It was a 'one-off' and WAS an independent creation by a clever writer.

                    But it is not used in the sense of 'bungling' that we get in bumbling buffoon. And thus you're still not finding anyone --except for 'Maybrick'--having thought to use the combination of bumbling + buffoon before 1949.

                    And is that surprising? In 1887 we have James A. H. Murray, and his fellow Oxford scholars, stating that the adjective "bumbling" is obscure...ie., not in wide use. They are the ones that invented the OED, and were alive at the moment, so I'm guessing they knew what they were talking about.

                    And we have two American authors in 1908 and 1916 respectively, under the strange impression that they had invented the adjective "bumbling" (And I fancy that the author of the St. James Gazette piece must have felt the same way). Why is that if the word was in wide circulation?

                    And this is even without the word being linked to "buffoon."

                    So, it seems to me, the choice is yours, as is an obvious one.

                    You can believe that Maybrick/the old hoaxer independently invented an insult "bumbling buffoon," and that it just happened to become popular and widely used 70 years later...

                    Or you can accept that the Diary was written at least 70 years later than you think it was...when the insult was already in wide circulation...

                    Not really much of a choice, is it, considering the diarist also uses "one-off," has the modern obsession with Abberline, doesn't sound Victorian, and references a police inventory list under lock-and-key until a few years before Bongo Barrett came bumbling in?

                    Personally, I think 'The Baron' nailed this one. "Bumbling buffoon" a verbal anachronism. But that's as far as I'm taking it.
                    RJ,

                    In his short story ‘Trapped’, Commander E. Hamilton Currey describes a ‘Goole ketch bumbling out of the Humber at a proud three knots an hour.’

                    I can find that appearing in the press in 1906 and 1908, I’m not sure when the short story was written.

                    Do you imagine that was a development of the independent creation of the clever bee writer, or might it have been a second clever independent coining of the term to mean, what - ‘chugging’? Perhaps the commander had an ear for the musicality of language and found the Bum/Hum internal rhyme amusing. These writers, eh, always mucking about with the English language. What are they like?

                    Gary



                    Last edited by MrBarnett; 09-02-2020, 02:55 PM.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by MrBarnett View Post

                      RJ,

                      In his short story ‘Trapped’, Commander E. Hamilton Currey describes a ‘Goole ketch bumbling out of the Humber at a proud three knots an hour.’

                      I can find that appearing in the press in 1906 and 1908, I’m not sure when the short story was written.

                      Do you imagine that was a development of the independent creation of the clever bee writer, or might it have been a second clever independent coining of the term to mean, what - ‘chugging’? Perhaps the commander had an ear for the musicality of language and found the Bum/Hum internal rhyme amusing. These writers, eh, always mucking about with the English language. What are they like?

                      Gary



                      In The Tatler of 7th March, 1956, we can read of an Oxford rowing coach quoted as saying that he “quite enjoys bumbling round a harbour in a dinghy if there's a pretty girl in the stern."


                      So, it looks like we have a nautical usage that may have gone underground* for half a century.


                      *i.e. Has proved Google-proof.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by MrBarnett View Post


                        In The Tatler of 7th March, 1956, we can read of an Oxford rowing coach quoted as saying that he “quite enjoys bumbling round a harbour in a dinghy if there's a pretty girl in the stern."


                        So, it looks like we have a nautical usage that may have gone underground* for half a century.


                        *i.e. Has proved Google-proof.
                        No one is disputing that the term 'bumbling' wasn't in circulation between 1949-1956, Gary. I've reprinted examples, so what does this second example have to do with the price of tea in China? It sounds like he's simply using the term in the way it was now understood in the 1950s.

                        As for the earlier reference, I'd have to see the full context. There was the obscure 'bumboat,' so maybe there is a nautical connection there.

                        Still, I tend to trust Professor Murray of OED fame when he wrote in 1887 that the adjective was obscure. Strange that he would write that if it wasn't. So, your argument seems to be that we have a theoretical Old Hoaxer with nautical knowledge, who was also a Richard Crashaw fan with a strange obsession with Abberline, who decided to play around with words and coined bumbling buffoon several decades before it became recognizably popular?

                        Hmmm....maybe Caz will buy it.

                        And Murray has nothing to do with "Google," of course, nor do separate searches through newspaper archives, which do not turn up on Google Books ngrams. Implying it's nothing more than a Google anomaly doesn't really quite cut the mustard.

                        Obviously, no one can state what was on everyone's lips in the 1880s and was never put to paper...but I think Murray would have noted the usage, if it was the least bit popular.

                        I take there is still no example of 'bumbling buffoon' before 1949?

                        Best Wishes.

                        Hope springs eternal. Funny thing is, there's plenty of examples in the years before Barrett came forward with the Diary. I wonder which explanation is more plausible?
                        Last edited by rjpalmer; 09-02-2020, 03:42 PM.

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by MrBarnett View Post


                          In The Tatler of 7th March, 1956, we can read of an Oxford rowing coach quoted as saying that he “quite enjoys bumbling round a harbour in a dinghy if there's a pretty girl in the stern."


                          So, it looks like we have a nautical usage that may have gone underground* for half a century.


                          *i.e. Has proved Google-proof.
                          hi Gary
                          from the example you provided it looks like it might have meant to move about randomly/erratically-like on the waves? maybe kind of similar to a bumblebee motion? IDK, just thinking out loud. Im fascinated by word origins.
                          "Is all that we see or seem
                          but a dream within a dream?"

                          -Edgar Allan Poe


                          "...the man and the peaked cap he is said to have worn
                          quite tallies with the descriptions I got of him."

                          -Frederick G. Abberline

                          Comment


                          • For those that don't know, Google can't get past firewalls and come up with 'hits' from the archives of, say, British Newspaper Archive, or a website that has its data in certain formats. (I've been looking through one that has radio programs transcribed).

                            So any studies of those holdings are independent of ngrams or Google. Yet, strange to say, I'm seeing the same pattern for "bumbling buffoon," regardless of where I look.

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post


                              Well, it's your digestive tract, Caz, and you can decide what you are willing to swallow, but I'm not having any of it.

                              Language doesn't work in the way that you (and Al?) are suggesting.

                              Yes, it's plastic, and we have the ability to uniquely link words together. ("Indefatigable penguin"---but who ever heard of that?).

                              But, in the grand scheme of things, when someone uses a phrase -- "bumbling buffoon" --it isn't because they are having an independent and spontaneous brainstorm, is it? People repeat word patterns and the sounds of word patterns. They aren't reinventing language every time they open their mouths; they are aping combinations they have heard before--and, as is now increasingly obvious, the combination of "bumbling buffoon" only made its way into popular culture in the 1940s.

                              The example that Harry uses of "bumbling fellow" is in an essay about bees called "The Wasp" that actually first appeared in the St. James Gazette on 22 April 1887. I had already noticed it, but it was just another rare example of "bumbling" being used in the context of bumble bees. If you read the whole essay, the author meant "fussy." The essay was popular enough that it was reprinted in other newspapers, and thus it almost single-handedly accounts for the hits for "bumbling" in the Victorian press. It was a 'one-off' and WAS an independent creation by a clever writer.

                              But it is not used in the sense of 'bungling' that we get in bumbling buffoon. And thus you're still not finding anyone --except for 'Maybrick'--having thought to use the combination of bumbling + buffoon before 1949.

                              And is that surprising? In 1887 we have James A. H. Murray, and his fellow Oxford scholars, stating that the adjective "bumbling" is obscure...ie., not in wide use. They are the ones that invented the OED, and were alive at the moment, so I'm guessing they knew what they were talking about.

                              And we have two American authors in 1908 and 1916 respectively, under the strange impression that they had invented the adjective "bumbling" (And I fancy that the author of the St. James Gazette piece must have felt the same way). Why is that if the word was in wide circulation?

                              And this is even without the word being linked to "buffoon."

                              So, it seems to me, the choice is yours, as is an obvious one.

                              You can believe that Maybrick/the old hoaxer independently invented an insult "bumbling buffoon," and that it just happened to become popular and widely used 70 years later...

                              Or you can accept that the Diary was written at least 70 years later than you think it was...when the insult was already in wide circulation...

                              Not really much of a choice, is it, considering the diarist also uses "one-off," has the modern obsession with Abberline, doesn't sound Victorian, and references a police inventory list under lock-and-key until a few years before Bongo Barrett came bumbling in?

                              Personally, I think 'The Baron' nailed this one. "Bumbling buffoon" a verbal anachronism. But that's as far as I'm taking it.
                              Hi RJ,
                              Summed that up well. Good post. Unless the phrase turns up at some point, the matter is pretty much put to bed. Good spot from The Baron.
                              Thems the Vagaries.....

                              Comment


                              • Of course we have Mr Bumble from Oliver Twist. I'm sure I've heard, or read, "bumbling fool" somewhere or other

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