Boy oh Boyu!

David Bowie seems to have a considerable following in Russia, to judge from the Pinterest materials about him, for instance this album:

(#1) Дэвид Боуи: David Bowie in Cyrillic transiteration

Боуи gets the [wi] of Bowie just right, but to Latin-alphabet-oriented eyes that уи looks like YU [ju], so Боуи looks like Boyu: Boy oh Boyu!

And you well might be exclaiming over David Bowie: see my 3/17/19 posting “Bidding farewell to /ǰæk/”, about David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, their very prominent baskets, and their attachment to the Union Jack. Bowie, basket, and flag in this photo (with Bowie’s wife Iman):


Elsewhere on Pinterest, a site with David Bowie merchandise for sale, including this (mass-produced) plaster bust of Bowie as Ziggy Stardust:

(#3) 2,000 rubles: ca. $32 US

The image is from the cover of Aladdin Sane. From Wikipedia:


Aladdin Sane is the sixth studio album by English musician David Bowie, released by RCA Records on 13 April 1973. The follow-up to his breakthrough The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, it was the first album he wrote and released from a position of stardom. The album cover featuring a lightning bolt across his face is regarded as one of Bowie’s most iconic images.

Exclamations. The basic exclamation / interjection is boy! (cf. exclamatory man!), glossed in NOAD as follows:

excl. boy: informal used to express strong feelings, especially of excitement or admiration: oh boy, that’s wonderful!

The example is for oh boy! rather than simple boy!, and in fact NOAD lists oh boy! separately:

excl. oh boy: used to express surprise or excitement.

Now my impression is that, although they overlap very considerably in import, boy!, oh boy!, and boy oh boy! are subtly different in their functions in some contexts (and are probably subject to social variation as well). Introspection about how we use them is surely not going to provide useful answers, though it might suggest lines of inquiry in doing a large-scale data study — an intriguing but daunting challenge.

2 Responses to “Boy oh Boyu!”

  1. Mark Mandel Says:

    Typo here:

    The image is from the cover of Alladin Sane. From Wikipedia

    -> Aladdin

  2. Arnold Zwicky Says:

    Let me once again beg people who notice typos to send these to me in e-mail, rather than in comments on my postings (which requires me to do an elaborate posting dance just to correct the errors silently). In this case, I’ll leave part of the comment, so that I can note that the typo in question is a “doubling error” (a misplacement of letter doubling), something that I have posted on, and a type of error I am especially prone to.

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