All the /do/s

(#1) Homer Simpson ejaculates

From the American tv show Psych, S2 E12 “The Old and the Restless” (2008):

Shawn Spencer: Can you check for a John Doe, please?
[Desk clerk nods, turns to her computer]
Shawn Spencer: Actually, can you check all the Does? Tae Kwon, Cookie, Play, Do-Si…

An extended play on the syllable /do/ in English.

(My latest posting on Psych is here.)

The Homeric interjection. From Wikipedia:

“D’oh!” … is a catchphrase used by the fictional character Homer Simpson, from the long-running American animated sitcom The Simpsons (1989–present). It is typically used when Homer injures himself, realizes that he has done something stupid, or when something bad has happened or is about to happen to him. All his prominent blood relations — son Bart, daughters Lisa and Maggie, his father, his mother and half-brother — have also been heard to use it themselves in similar circumstances. On a few occasions Homer’s wife Marge and even non-related characters such as Mr. Burns and Sideshow Bob have also used this phrase.

The placeholder name John Doe. From the 10/8/14 posting “veeblefetzer”: placeholder names

can refer to objects or people whose names are temporarily forgotten, irrelevant, or unknown in the context in which they are being discussed

Or, as in the Psych case, are being concealed — have been anonymized.

(#2) Meet John Doe is a 1941 American comedy drama film

directed and produced by Frank Capra, and starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck. The film is about a “grassroots” political campaign created unwittingly by a newspaper columnist with the involvement of a hired homeless man and pursued by the paper’s wealthy owner. (Wikipedia link)

Tae Kwon Do. From Wikipedia:


Taekwondo [or Tae Kwon Do] is a Korean martial art, characterized by its emphasis on head-height kicks, jumping and spinning kicks, and fast kicking techniques.

Taekwondo was developed during the 1940s and 1950s by various martial artists by incorporating elements of karate and Han Chinese Kung-Fu with traditional Korean martial arts traditions … as well as ancient Han Chinese influenced Korean Kung-Fu styles

Cookie dough. From Wikipedia:

(#4) Chocolate chip cookie dough

Cookie dough refers to a blend of cookie ingredients which has been mixed into a malleable form which has not yet been hardened by heat. The dough is often then separated and the portions baked to individual cookies, or eaten as is.

Cookie dough can be homemade or bought pre-made in packs (frozen logs, buckets, etc.). Desserts containing cookie dough, such as ice cream, candy, and milkshakes are also frequently marketed.

Play-Doh. From Wikipedia:

(#5) Sweet stuff made from Play-Doh

Play-Doh is a modeling compound used by young children for art and craft projects at home and in school. Composed of flour, water, salt, boric acid, and mineral oil, the product was first manufactured in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States, as a wallpaper cleaner in the 1930s. The product was reworked and marketed to Cincinnati schools in the mid-1950s. Play-Doh was demonstrated at an educational convention in 1956 and prominent department stores opened retail accounts. Advertisements promoting Play-Doh on influential children’s television shows in 1957 furthered the product’s sales.

And do-si-do. From Wikipedia:

Do-si-do, dosado, or dos-à-dos (see spelling below) is a basic dance step in such dance styles as square dance, contra dance, polka, various historical dances, and some reels.

The term is a corruption of the original French term dos-à-dos for the dance move, which means “back to back”, as opposed to “vis-à-vis” which means “face to face”.

The Psych examples are all of the form X + /do/ (with /do/ spelled DOE, DO, DOUGH, or DOH, and with a variety of semantics). We could add a few more, like DODO and The Ballad of Baby Doe (but as always, the character Shawn Spencer is plugged into popular culture, so maybe Douglas Moore’s opera is too refined for the context). And if we throw in things of the form /do/ + X, then there’s a ton more stuff to play with: DO RE MI, DOUGHBOY, DODIE GOODMAN, DOBIE GILLIS, DODECAHEDRON, …

5 Responses to “All the /do/s”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    An exchange on Facebook:

    Mike Pope: Do you think there’s any phonological justification for spelling the Homeric “D’oh” with an apostrophe?

    Arnold Zwicky: I *think* it was supposed to indicate an emphatic, lengthened pronunciation. Don’t know if Groening or any of the writers have said anything about the spelling choice.

    Jason Parker-Burlingham: Word is that it appears in scripts as “annoyed grunt”.

  2. arnold zwicky Says:

    From Jim Unger on Facebook:

    I guess tornado, tuxedo, mikado, aficionado, incommunicado, etc. don’t count because they lack stress on the final syllable, but how about tournedo, which has secondary stress there?

    That’s tournedos /ˈturnəˌdo/. In any case, it ought to count. Actually, I’d buy the others too; even though the final syllable in them is unaccented, it has the vowel /o/, not a schwa.

  3. arnold zwicky Says:

    Again from Facebook on D’OH:

    John Lawler: I’ve always heard a breathy, possibly pharyngealized, vowel, indicating perhaps an aspirated voiced stop.

  4. arnold zwicky Says:

    Another from Facebook on D’OH:

    Ben Zimmer, citing his 7/21/04 Language Log piece: Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious

    Yeah, I’m not quite clear how “d’oh” became the “generally accepted” spelling. Even if it wasn’t in the scripts, it showed up that way early on in articles about the show (and among fans online). It could be Castellaneta encouraged that spelling as a way of indicating it’s based on Jim Finlayson’s extended “d-oooooh.”

  5. Robert Coren Says:

    Linguistic tangent: Many contra-dance callers semi-jocularly use “do-si-did” as a past tense of “do-si-do” (“Now swing the person you just do-si-did”), despite the fact that the “do” in “do-si-do” is not pronounced like the verb “do”.

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