Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bunga Bunga!

Stuff like this makes me wonder where I've been the last few years (Out Here, I guess) but obviously I haven't been following Italian events as closely as I should have been. "Bunga bunga is a phrase of uncertain meaning that dates from 1910, if not earlier. By 2010 the phrase had gained popularity in Italy and the international press as well, when it was used by the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to refer to his alleged sex parties, which caused a major political scandal in Italy. In an 1852 issue of Hogg's Instructor, it is stated that "bunga bunga" is the name given by local natives to a location near Moreton Bay on the eastern coast of Australia. In 1910 a group of English friends, including Virginia Woolf and her brother Adrian Stephen, pretending to be the Prince of Abyssinia and his entourage, obtained permission to visit HMS Dreadnought, then one of the world's most powerful warships, in what became known as the Dreadnought Hoax. Each time the Commander showed them a marvel of the ship, they murmured the phrase "bunga, bunga!" This became a popular catchphrase for a time. Bloomsbury hoaxers would have known the words bung, bunging, and bunged that refer to the pouring and draining of liquid through a hole in a cask. The hole, a bunghole, is plugged with a cork, peg or spigot. A century later, the term bunga bunga became popular again as a joke on the internet. This joke was then narrated by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at his dinner parties (in a version which featured, as prisoners, former ministers from the center-left opposition party led by Romano Prodi). This expression was then frequently quoted by the Italian and international press during the 2011 investigation surrounding Silvio Berlusconi's underage prostitution charges, acquiring a quite different meaning as "an orgy involving a powerful leader"; as such, it was allegedly taught to Silvio Berlusconi by Muammar al-Gaddafi. In Italy, the term bunga bunga "has become an instant, supposedly hilarious, household expression". Descriptions of bunga bunga disagree on its meaning ... An alternative explanation for its origins was proposed by actress Sabina Began, who claimed that it was a nickname based on her surname and that she had organized the parties. The lexicographer Jonathon Green does not expect the term to make much headway, or to last, in English."  (Wikipedia)  Oh yeah?

The Good News:  The king of bunga bunga has been deposed!