Obama: They talk about me like a dog

In a speech this week to his supporters, a group of labor union members, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (a source of his votes), U.S. President Obama accused his political opponents of talking about him “like a dog”. I’m not all interested in American politicians’ dog-eat-dog scenarios. But, I’m particularly fascinated by his use of the word dog in a disapproving way. He might mean his critics talked to him as if he was a dog, or they talk to him as dogs do. But what he means depends on how they talk to dogs or he feels about talking dogs.

I decided to research the word by looking up dogs in dictionaries to see how they behave in languages.

According to Random House Dictionary via Dictionary.com, in addition to

a domesticated canid, Canis familiaris, bred in many varieties,

a dog can mean:

a despicable man or youth, a fellow in general (e.g. a lucky dog), something worthless or of extremely poor quality, [as in] “That used car you bought is a dog”, an utter failure; flop; [as in] Critics say his new play is a dog, [or] an ugly, boring, or crude person.

As The 21st Century Unabridged English-Chinese Dictionary (21世纪大英汉词典) via dict.youdao.com believes, a dog can be:

# [口语]男人;男孩,小伙子, 家伙
# [口语]卑鄙小人,禽兽般的人,无赖汉;可轻视的人
# 不受欢迎的人;地位低下的人;无能(或无用)之辈,窝囊废
# [美国俚语]

* [黑人用语]“公狗”(性骚扰的男人);好色之徒;诱奸者;勾引者;不值得信赖的男人
* (与男人滥交的)野女人,烂污女人,妓女
* 无吸引力(或心狠、令人厌恶)的女人(或姑娘),其貌不扬的女人,丑妞,丑丫头
* 迷人的时髦女郎
* [澳大利亚俚语、贬义]叛徒,变节分子;告密者
* [复数 ](人的)双脚
* [the Dog]“灰狗”长途汽车,(画有灵提狗的)公共汽车
* [the dogs]绝妙事物

# [美国、加拿大英语]无价值(或卖不掉)的东西,滞销货,廉价商品,蹩脚货,质量低劣的东西,废物;不能令人满意的事情;不成功的冒险;(彻底的)失败
# [口语]铺张,摆阔,架子
# [英国俚语]电话
# [俚语]=hot dog
# [复数] 轻便运动鞋,旅游鞋
# 【电影、电视】低劣(或蹩脚)剧目,失败之作
# 驽马,蹩脚马
# [美国俚语、爵士音乐界用语]漂亮女人
# [the dogs][美国俚语]快事,盛事

Then, a dog can be anything from a despicable man to a hot woman (American jazz slang), and from a traitor (Australian slang) to a failure.

So, dogs are not more favorably or better represented, either, in English

What about the luck of the animal in Chinese then? No better

狗盗鸡鸣:
①比喻具有微末技能。②比喻偷偷摸摸
狗盗鼠窃:
像鼠狗那样的盗贼。比喻成不了气候的反叛者
狗吠非主:
狗见到不是自己主人的人便吠叫。亦以喻臣奴事奉其主而拒事非其主者。语出《战国策•齐策六》:“跖之狗吠尧,非贵跖而贱尧也,狗固吠非其主也。”
狗吠之惊:
谓小惊忧
狗苟蝇营:
像狗那样苟且求活,像苍蝇那样营营往来。比喻不顾廉耻,到处钻营
狗急跳墙:
比喻走投无路时不顾后果地行动。语出《敦煌变文集•燕子赋》:“人急烧香,狗急蓦墙。”
狗口里吐不出象牙:
比喻坏人说不出好话
狗马声色:
良犬、骏马、音乐、女色。借指穷奢极侈的享乐
狗拿耗子:
比喻做外行事或多管闲事
狗皮膏药:
①中医外用膏药。将药膏涂在小块狗皮上制成,能消痞止痛。②旧时走江湖的人常假造狗皮膏药来骗取钱财,因用以比喻骗人的货色
狗屁不通:
形容话或文章极不通顺
狗头军师:
对专在背后出谋划策的人的蔑称
狗头鼠脑:
喻奴才相
狗尾续貂:
亦作“狗续貂尾”。亦作“狗尾貂续”。①古代近侍官员以貂尾为冠饰,任官太滥,貂尾不足,用狗尾代之。后以“狗尾续貂”讽刺封爵太滥。《晋书•赵王伦传》:“奴卒厮役亦加以爵位。每朝会,貂蝉盈坐,时人为之谚曰:‘貂不足,狗尾续。’”②比喻以坏续好,前后不相称。多指文学艺术作品。宋周必大《杨廷秀送牛尾狸侑以长句次韵》:“公诗如貂不烦削,我续狗尾句空著。”
狗心狗行:
比喻歹毒的心肠、行为
狗行狼心:
比喻行为凶狠,心肠毒辣
狗续侯冠:
犹狗续金貂
狗续金貂:
比喻滥封的官吏
狗血喷头:
形容骂得很厉害
狗咬吕洞宾:
喻不识好歹。吕洞宾,传说中八仙之一
狗仗官势:
比喻坏人倚仗官府势力欺压他人
狗仗人势:
比喻奴才、走狗倚仗主子的势力
狗彘不若:
犹言猪狗不如。形容品行极端卑劣。语出《荀子•荣辱》:“乳彘不触虎,乳狗不远游,不忘其亲也。人也,下忘其身,内忘其亲,上忘其君,则是人也,而曾狗彘之不若也。”
狗走狐淫:
比喻卑劣淫乱
白衣苍狗:
唐杜甫《可叹》诗:“天上浮云如白衣,斯须改变如苍狗。”后以“白衣苍狗”比喻世事变化无常
嫁鸡随鸡,嫁狗随狗:
比喻女子出嫁后,不管丈夫如何,都要随从一辈子
苍狗白衣:
犹白衣苍狗。喻事物变幻无常
打鸡骂狗:
比喻旁敲侧击地漫骂,以发泄对某个人的不满
打落水狗:
比喻继续打击那些已经失败了的敌人,不使死灰复燃
貂不足,狗尾续:
①谓授官太滥。②指美中不足或以次充好
貂狗相属:
指真伪或优劣混杂在一起
斗鸡走狗:
鸡与鸡相搏斗,狗与狗相竞走。古代的赌博游戏
饭牛屠狗:
①喻指从事低贱之事。②指从事贱业者
飞鹰走狗:
放出鹰和狗去追捕鸟兽。指打猎
挂羊头卖狗肉:
比喻用好的名义做幌子,实际上名不符实或做坏事
狐鸣狗盗:
旧时对造反者的贬称
狐朋狗友:
犹狐群狗党
狐群狗党:
喻勾结在一起的坏人
画虎不成反类狗:
比喻好高鹜远,终无成就,反贻笑柄。亦喻仿效失真,反而弄得不伦不类
淮王鸡狗:
晋葛洪《神仙传•刘安》:“时人传八公、安临去时,馀药器置在中庭。鸡犬舐啄之,尽得升天。”后因以“淮王鸡狗”比喻攀附别人而得势的人
获兔烹狗:
犹言狡兔死,走狗烹。比喻事成后排斥以至杀害有功者
鸡肠狗肚:
比喻狭窄的度量,狠毒的心肠
鸡飞狗叫:
犹言鸡飞狗走
鸡飞狗走:
鸡吓得飞起来,狗吓得逃跑。形容惊慌失措,乱成一团
鸡零狗碎:
谓事物零零碎碎,不完整
鸡鸣狗盗:
鸡鸣狗吠:
狼嗥狗叫:
形容恶人狂呼乱叫
狼心狗肺:
比喻心肠狠毒、贪婪
狼心狗行:
比喻心肠狠毒贪婪,行为卑鄙无耻
傫如丧狗:
卖狗悬羊:
犹言挂羊头卖狗肉。意谓名不副实
泥猪疥狗:
比喻卑贱或粗鄙的人
牛黄狗宝:
牛黄,牛胆囊中的结石;狗宝,狗脏器中的凝结物。两者都是内脏病变的产物,因以喻坏透了的心肠
烹狗藏弓:
语出《史记•越王勾践世家》:“范蠡遂去,自齐遗大夫种(文种)书曰:‘蜚鸟尽,良弓藏,狡兔死,走狗烹。’”后以“烹狗藏弓”比喻事成之后把效劳出力的人抛弃以至杀害
人面狗心:
①《晋书•苻朗载记》:“朗曰:‘吏部为谁,非人面而狗心,狗面而人心兄弟者乎?’王忱丑而才慧,国宝美貌而才劣于弟,故朗云然。”后因以“人面狗心”比喻容貌美好而才学低下的人。②犹言人面兽心
丧家之狗:
《史记•孔子世家》:“孔子适郑,与弟子相失,孔子独立郭东门。郑人或谓子贡曰:‘东门有人,其颡似尧,其项类皋陶,其肩类子产,然自要以下不及禹三寸,累累若丧家之狗。’”后因以比喻失去依靠、无处投奔或惊慌失措的人
声色狗马:
歌舞、女色、玩狗、跑马。泛指旧时统治阶级的淫乐方式
鼠窜狗盗:
像鼠狗那样奔窜偷盗
鼠窃狗盗:
①比喻小偷小盗或小规模的抢掠骚扰。②指小股盗贼
鼠窃狗偷:
①同“鼠窃狗盗”。②指男女之间不正当的行为。③比喻鬼祟卑鄙。④指委琐低劣
偷鸡摸狗:
亦作“偷鸡盗狗”。①指偷窃。②指背着自己的配偶和他人搞男女关系
土龙刍狗:
土做的龙,草扎的狗。比喻名实不相副
兔死狗烹:
兔子死后,猎狗被烹食。多比喻统治者杀害功臣。语出《史记•越王勾践世家》:“范蠡遂去,自齐遗大夫种书曰:‘蜚鸟尽,良弓藏;狡兔死,走狗烹。越王为人长颈鸟喙,可与共患难,不可与共乐。子何不去?’”
蛙鸣狗吠:
青蛙与狗的鸣叫。比喻拙劣的诗文
行若狗彘:
行为像猪狗。谓不齿人类。语本《墨子•耕柱》:“子夏之徒问於子墨子曰:‘君子有斗乎?’子墨子曰:‘君子无斗。’子夏之徒曰:‘狗豨犹有斗,恶有士而无斗矣?’子墨子曰:‘伤矣哉!言则称於汤文,行则譬於狗豨,伤矣哉!’”
羊头狗肉:
喻表里不一,明一套暗一套
引狗入寨:
犹言引狼入室
蝇营狗苟:
①像苍蝇一样到处钻营,像狗一样苟且求活。比喻为追求名利,不顾廉耻,不择手段。②借指无耻之徒
跖狗吠尧:
意谓各为其主
指猪骂狗:
犹指桑骂槐
猪朋狗友:
比喻好吃懒做、不务正业的坏朋友
椎埋狗窃:
谓抢杀偷盗,不务正业
椎埋屠狗:
杀人宰狗。指为非作歹和从事低贱的职业
捉鸡骂狗:
犹指桑骂槐

歇后语:

够拿耗子——多管闲事
狗咬猪尿泡——空喜欢一场
狗赶鸭子–呱呱叫
狗咬吕洞宾——不识好人心
狗掀门帘——全凭一张嘴
叭拉狗蹲墙头:硬装坐地虎(比喻冒充豪绅)
叭拉狗掀门帘:全仗一张嘴
叭拉狗咬月亮:不知天多高(比喻不知道自己有多大本事,非常不自量力
裁缝打狗:有尺寸
苍蝇嘴巴狗鼻子:真灵
吃过屎的狗:嘴巴臭
吃了砒霜毒狗:先害自己
脆瓜打狗:零碎
打狗不赢咬鸡:怯大欺小
恶狗咬天:狂妄(汪)
恶狼和疯狗作伴:脾气相投
恶狼学狗叫:没怀好意
疯狗吃太阳:不晓得夭高地厚
疯狗的脾气:见人就咬
疯狗咬刺猥:无处下日
疯狗咬人:叼着不放
疯狗咬太阳:不晓得天高地厚(比喻不知事情的艰巨、严重)
疯狗咬月亮:狂妄
哈巴狗带串铃:充什么大牲口(比喻小人物装作大人物的样子)
哈巴狗上轿:不识抬举
黄狗当马骑:乱来
黄狗头上出角:尽出洋(羊)相
济公吃狗肉:不管清规戒律
见狗扔骨头:投其所好
江湖佬卖完狗皮育:该收场了
叫化子打狗:边打边走
街上的疯狗:乱咬人
街头的狗:谁有吃就跟谁走
看羊的狗:一个比一个凶
癞皮狗上轿:招摇撞骗
狼狗打架:两头害怕
老猫犯罪狗戴枷:无辜受累
老牛钻狗洞:难通过
猫儿捉老鼠狗看门:各守本分(比喻份内事,各人有各人的职责)
猫捉老鼠狗看门:本分事
猫钻狗洞:容易通过
皮娃娃砸狗:招你不当人
全銮殿上的狗尿吝:色不济,长在好地方
肉包子打狗:一去不回头
肉包子打狗:白扔东西(比喻徒然付出代价,没有效果)
肉包子打狗:春去无回
三伏天的狗:上气不按下气
司狗的:软的欺负硬的怕
堂屋里挂狗皮:那是什么话(画)
偷嘴的狗:见人就逃(比喻做了丑事,见不得人)
瞎狗逮兔子:碰到嘴上
瞎了眼的癞皮狗:碰着啥咬啥
要饭的打狗:穷横
野地里遇疯狗:难近身
幼狗不吃屎:没事找事
喻巴狗舔脚跟:亲的不是地方(比喻场合不对)
属疯狗的:见人就咬
属狗的:老爱咬人
属狗的:直肠子

However, for people who keep dogs as their loving and loved companions, the animals are their best friends, loyal, entertaining, and understanding. They are everything that a despicable man or an aspirant of no use is not.

Then, references to dogs in both English and Chinese languages serve as the best example of humans’ mixed feelings towards things.

5 thoughts on “Obama: They talk about me like a dog”

  1. U.S. President Obama accused his political opponents of talking about him “like a dog”.
    They talk about me like a dog,” Obama said of his political opponents. “That’s not in my prepared remarks, but it’s true.
    The singular form of "dog" suggests that Obama described the way "they" portrayed him. Of course, a law professor should have said They talk about me as if I was a dog, but somehow, that would sound less catchy to me.
    Me on the other hand thinks that some Tea Party protagonists are pretty hot chicks.
    That one, too.

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