An Unnecessary Gloss?

In Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932), the subtitles quote the maid as telling the title character, Priape Boudu, “You behave like a Neanderthal”, but the last word is clearly audible as ‘troglodyte’. Was the gloss really necessary? Surely anyone likely to watch a 74-year-old movie in a Criterion edition knows the meaning of the word ‘troglodyte’?

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One Response to An Unnecessary Gloss?

  1. Alfred M. Kriman says:

    Well, here’s something. A Google search on troglodyte (just now) yields 1.46 million hits, while neanderthal yields 3.1 million and falling. (“neanderthal OR neandertal” yields only 2.72 million, go figure google.) However, a large fraction of the former, or at least of the first 1000 hits, link to definitions of the term. Troglodyte seems to be a very popular term to define, but not so popular to use. I can understand how this could happen, but it puzzles me that troglodyte, which occurs very roughly half as often as neanderthal, should be defined so much more often. Perhaps it’s aword that, as the blog entry suggests, is simply considered obscure.

    Okay, searching English pages only, as indifferently identified by Google, 646k troglodyte hits, 1.79M neanderthal, 194k neandertal (many pages common to the last two searches, no doubt). The same searches, but also requiring the word “definition”, turn up 50k, 201k, 24k hits.
    This is not consistent with my impression, but it’s not a very precise measure. Google also seems to offer a definition (distinct from the search results) whenever troglodyte is among the search terms, but doesn’t extend the same courtesy for neanderthal.

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