July 21, 2004

Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious

I have an update on the correct way to spell d'oh -- Don Porges points out to me by email that it's actually "(annoyed grunt)", parentheses included. At least, that's the standard orthographic representation as far as The Simpsons' writers are concerned.

This reference supports him:

One of the most frequent questions from alt.tv.simpsons newcomers is how
to spell Homer's renowned expression. Although the generally accepted
spelling is "D'oh!", many sources feature different versions,
including closed captioning's own "D-oh!"

But the funniest part is, if you ever looked at a Simpsons script,
all you would see are mentions of "annoyed grunts" over and over.
When the series started, Matt and the boys let Dan Castellaneta
choose an interpretation for the "(Annoyed Grunt)" indicator; since
then, Homer's "D'oh!" has always been referred to in that fashion.
(Though we know through 3F24 and 3G01 that the writers acknowledge
the usual spelling.)

All of this makes this episode's official title:
"Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious". Some TV Guides
actually printed this version in their listings; Robert Berry also
notes that it was featured in the DSS onscreen program guide.

One of the perennial problems with standardizing transcription practice is to decide on a stardard list of non-lexical noises, and a standard way to spell each of them. Here's a reference that standardizes English filled pauses as ah, eh, er, uh and um, English interjections as ach, duh, eee, ew, ha, hee, huh, huh-uh, hm, jeepers, jeez, mm, mhm, nah, oh, okay, oof, ooh, uh-huh, uh-oh, whoa, whew, whoops, woo-hoo, yay, yeah, yep, yup, and English speaker noises as {laugh}, {cough}, {sneeze}, {breath}, {lipsmack}. Similar lists for Chinese and Arabic can be found in the same reference.

D'oh didn't make it into any of the lists, under any spelling. This is a significant omission, in a world in which The Simpsons is now probably quoted more often than Shakespeare is, and Matt Groenig has arguably become our culture's Homer.

[Update: Don Porges further points out that at least two other Simpsons' episodes use the (annoyed grunt) spelling in their official titles:

322. FABF04   I, (Annoyed Grunt)-bot

while at least three use the d'oh spelling instead:

209. AABF02   D'oh-in' in the Wind
244. BABF14   Days of Wine and D'oh'ses
306. EABF10   C.E. D'oh.



Posted by Mark Liberman at July 21, 2004 06:57 AM