I’ll admit that it isn’t exactly a very nice phonological word, in fact it sounds horrible. But after reading it in Mike Carlton’s regular Saturday column over the weekend, I decided to make at least some use of it.
Carlton’s column was about the furore within the media that former ABC (Australia’s publicly owned broadcaster) journalist Maxine McKew is running for the Labor party in the Prime Minister’s own seat of Bennelong. Apparently it’s proof positive that “the ABC is a nest of Howard-hating pinko subversives”, just to quote Carlton’s rich imagery. All this rhetoric and furore is, in Carlton’s opinion, nothing but ‘bloviate’ (noun, initial stress), and the right-wing pundits and columnists who take Howard’s side to please their boss, Rupert Murdoch, are the ‘bloviators’ in this affair.
The column began with an introduction to the word:
Bloviate is a splendid word from America. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, to bloviate is “to speak or write verbosely and windily”. The Oxford English Dictionary, which has only recently picked up the word from across the Atlantic, says it’s “to talk at length in an empty and inflated way”.
I was initially under the impression that this word is a recent coinage, from some time in the last 6 years or so. But the Oxford English Dictionary (online) cites sources going back as far as 160 years. I therefore have less reservation about using it here.
Which brings me to the issue; why am I using it here? Surely this is not meant to be empty and inflated rhetoric but rather, something a little more substantial. Well, yes. But in the spirit of The Chaser, whose motto used to be Striving for Mediocrity in a World of Excellence, I’ve taken an ironic point of view toward the notion of bloviation.
If I am indeed ‘yearning for empty rhetoric in a world of literary profundity’ then everything I say can be taken to be meaningless, including the name ‘bloviator’, in which case the name doesn’t necessitate that anything at all should be empty and inflated, in which case the name is meaningful again. Oh, the irony.
Of course, the world is not full of literary profundity at all, and there is no shortage whatsoever of empty rhetoric, but perhaps that’s partly my point.
If the name sucks (or ‘fellates’, to use a bloviational equivalent) then tell me.