Today Translations, a London-based translation company with a network of 2,600 linguists in over 60 countries, polled 320 of its linguists across the world to try to find the “most valuable addition to the English language” from the world’s most popular animated TV series, "The Simpsons". Is it any surprise that the top word was "D'oh!" - Homer’s trademark grunt of irritation or frustration?
“D’oh!” scored 37% in the poll, followed by “introubulate” (“to get someone into trouble”) and “craptacular” (spectacularly crap). “Eat my shorts" (the equivalent of "Kiss my a**") came fourth. The phrase “cheeseeating surrender monkeys,” used to describe the French, came in ninth.
The Homerish "d'oh!" was entered into the Oxford English Dictionary in 2001 with this definition:
Variant(s): d'oh or dooh
: Expressing frustration at the realization that things have turned out badly or not as planned, or that one has just said or done something foolish. Also (usu. mildly derogatory): implying that another person has said or done something foolish
Other notable Homerisms range from “lupper” (a large meal midway between lunch and supper) to “sacrilicious” (meaning either deliciously sacreligious or the delicious taste of eating something sacred).
"Homer Simpson must be the most influential wordsmith since Shakespeare,” says Jurga Zilinskiene, CEO of Today Translations. “And thanks to The Simpsons, combined with the power of the internet, ours must be the greatest golden age for new words since Shakespeare’s own.”
A rival to Homer's contributions could be his son, Bart Simpson. In addition to "Eat my shorts" and “craptacular”, he coined the word “yoink” (to snatch by grasping hastily or by yanking) and who could forget “kwyjibo”, which he defined during a Scrabble game as “a big dumb balding Northern American ape with no chin” - otherwise known as Homer Simpson. Bart shares credit with his sister Lisa for the word, “Meh” - defined as an expression of profound indifference, much like how the word “whatever” is used by shrugging teenagers.
The Simpsons has been dubbed into over a dozen languages, including French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese and Arabic.
“Translating The Simpsons into other languages can be a challenge”, says Jurga Zilinskiene of Today Translations.
In fact, in the French version of the show Homer actually says “T’oh!”, instead of “D’oh!” because the French actor who dubs Homer’s voice misread the word the first time he played the role. He has never got round to correcting it.
French translators have also had difficulties with another famous Simpsonism: “cheese-eating surrender monkeys”, a phrase first used in the show, says Ben Macintyre, back in 1995 by Willie, the Scottish school janitor, to describe the French. “In the French version of the show it is translated as ‘singes mangeurs de fromage. The word ‘surrender’, intriguingly, is not translated.”
D'oh! The French didn't like that phrase? Meh. The rest of the words, and their definitions, are as follows:
- d'oh! - (interjection. A grunt expressing frustration at the realisation that things have turned out badly or not as planned or that one has just said or done something foolish.)
- introubulate (verb. To get someone into trouble.)
- craptacular (adjective. A portmanteau of "spectacular" and "crap" i.e. spectacularly crap)
- eat my shorts (interjection: An insult or dismissal in the same vein as "Kiss my a**").
- knowitallism (noun. A word that describes Lisa Simpson's personality.).
- embiggen (verb. Enlarge or empower)
- meh (Interjection. An expression of profound indifference).
- learning juice (noun. Beer)
- cheese-eating surrender monkeys (noun. An unflattering description of the French as a nationality.)
- kwyjibo (noun. Originally, a word that enabled Bart Simpson to use all his letters in Scrabble. When challenged, he claimed that it was the name of "a big dumb balding Northern American ape with no chin.")
- banjologist (noun. An expert in banjo-based music)
- cromulent (adjective. "valid" or "acceptable")
- car-hold (noun. a garage)
- malparkage (noun. the state or condition of being illegally parked)
- yoink (verb. To snatch in a yanking-like fashion; also, to inflict a "wedgie" on someone by pulling or "yoinking" their underpants up sharply from behind, so as to wedge them uncomfortably between their buttocks)