Daily Archives: November 22, 2008

roger

A word that purrs like a tiger – a big masculine one. Although the visual hint of rogue is weakened by the pronunciation and the sound of Raj is mitigated by the spelling, the r‘s have it here – the same growl we learn as kids from “They’rrrrre grrrrreat!” and produce when imitating race car sounds, with the voiced alveolar affricate in the middle standing in for the gear shift (or any other mechanically connecting working). Nor does the chest hair stop there. The word begins with the raw ro and then the ger could be starting jerk – another quintessentially masculine word – or even German, calling on the Teutonic testosterone. It’s renowned as the rough and ready word of flyboys. It has had a few other senses over the ages, including a ram (male sheep) and a man’s todger. From the lodging of the latter, by 1711, came a still-popular verbal use, a very laddish way of referring summarily to an act that female writers sometimes require whole paragraphs to circumlocute. Look to the collocations for further piss and vinegar: Jolly Roger, the sign of a pirate, yet another archetypally laddish occupation. And what morphemes were mated to make this macho murmur? Germanic hrod “fame” and ger “spear.” Say no more. Say no more! Or, rather: Roger that!