Kim Jong-un called Trump a ‘dotard’

How Harsh Is That Burn?

Sunday Express - - INTERNATIONAL -

WHEN Pres­i­dent Trump threat­ened to “to­tally de­stroy” North Korea and mocked its leader, Kim Jong-un, as “Rocket Man” in a speech on Tues­day at the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly, the rhetor­i­cal re­tal­i­a­tion from Py­ongyang was in­evitable.

That Mr. Kim would call Mr. Trump a “men­tally de­ranged U.S. dotard” on Fri­day was some­thing more of a sur­prise. The word “dotard” in par­tic­u­lar sent peo­ple to the dic­tionary to look up the ar­cane put-down.

Mer­riam-Webster noted that “dotard” comes from “dotage,” a word mean­ing “a state or pe­riod of se­nile de­cay marked by de­cline of men­tal poise and alert­ness.” It rhymes with goatherd.

The word has ap­peared on the pages of The New York Times just 10 times since 1980, al­ways in the pa­per’s arts cov­er­age. “A fa­vorite theme of the me­dieval fa­bliau is the May-De­cem­ber tale of the dotard hus­band cuck­olded by his young wife,” be­gan one book re­view in 1986.

The word makes a few ap­pear­ances in Shake­speare. “I speak not like a dotard nor a fool,” Leonato says in “Much Ado About Noth­ing.”

And Her­man Melville used it in a poem about a shark. “Eyes and brains to the dotard lethar­gic and dull, Pale ravener of hor­ri­ble meat.”

The Korean word Mr. Kim used for “dotard” was “neuk­dari,” a com­mon deroga­tory term for an old per­son. The con­no­ta­tion is some­one who is lazy, use­less and de­mented.

Jean H. Lee, a for­mer Py­ongyang bureau chief for The As­so­ci­ated Press, said on Twit­ter that she had vis­ited the of­fices of KCNA, the North Korean state news ser­vice, and found the agency us­ing very old Kore­anEnglish dic­tio­nar­ies for their trans­la­tions.

The ob­scu­rity of “dotard” made it per­fect fod­der for so­cial me­dia, gen­er­at­ing quips about the other­wise un­funny sub­jects of bal­lis­tic missiles, nu­clear tests and es­ca­lat­ing ten­sions on the Korean Penin­sula. Some com­menters, how­ever, pointed out that the use of a funny word should not eclipse the se­ri­ous­ness of ten­sions in the re­gion.

In a rar­ity, Mr. Kim was not the butt of the on­line jokes in­volv­ing him.Just be­fore 6:30 a.m. on Fri­day, Mr. Trump re­sorted to some name-call­ing of his own. In a tweet, the pres­i­dent called Mr. Kim “ob­vi­ously a mad­man who doesn’t mind starv­ing or killing his peo­ple.”

North Korea has long in­sulted for­eign politi­cians, some­times us­ing ugly sex­ist and racist lan­guage. It pre­vi­ously called Pres­i­dent Barack Obama a “mon­key” and for­mer Pres­i­dent Park Ge­un­hye of South Korea a “pros­ti­tute” and a “snake” who should “meet a mis­er­able dog’s death.”

KCNA once called Hil­lary Clin­ton, then sec­re­tary of state, “by no means in­tel­li­gent” and said she some­times “looks like a pri­mary school­girl and some­times a pen­sioner go­ing shop­ping.” It said her suc­ces­sor, John Kerry, was a “wolf” with a “hideous lan­tern jaw.”

For­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush, the agency once said, looked like “a chicken soaked in the rain” when he dodged a shoe thrown at him dur­ing a news con­fer­ence in Bagh­dad in 2008. — NY Times

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