Boris Johnson's use of 'verbal flamboyance' unique, linguists say

 | Updated: Jul 23, 2019, 08:37 PM IST

Johnson cast Prime Minister Theresa May's failed deal as giving Britain the 'status of a colony'.

Britain's next prime minister

Johnson, 55, will become Britain's next prime minister after winning the leadership of the Conservative Party on Tuesday.

He has said his experience as London mayor and later as foreign secretary show he has good grasp of policy and that accusations of untruthfulness are due to quotes being taken out of context.

His use of exaggerated analogies can trigger powerful feelings.


Once could recite first hundred lines of Homer’s Iliad in ancient Greek

Britain’s incoming prime minister once boasted he could recite from heart the first hundred lines of Homer’s Iliad in ancient Greek.

Boris Johnson has long spun political gold from his magniloquent tongue, using what some linguists and observers say bombastic language, esoteric vocabulary, occasional crudity and episodes of bumbling bluster.

He confects what appears to be his unrehearsed speech with references ranging from classical antiquity to popular British culture, and courts popularity-enhancing controversy with the occasional use of what are now considered British imperial anachronisms.


UK next prime minister, a published author

The sheer chutzpah of Johnson's verbal flamboyance has long been one of his hallmarks - from the debating societies of his exclusive boarding school Eton College and later Oxford University to his time as a young newspaper correspondent lampooning the European project from Brussels.

As a politician, he honed his alluring oratory as a television show celebrity and as London mayor. He routinely upstaged leaders of the Conservative Party with speeches at its annual conference that enraptured many grass roots members.

A published author, his books include a biography of his hero and British war leader Winston Churchill. He has received 22,917 pounds a month for a weekly column in the Telegraph newspaper.


Johnson knows Latin and Ancient Greek

Few modern politicians display their admiration for ancient Greece as much as Britain's next prime minister - full name Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, but commonly referred to as simply 'Boris.'

Having studied classics at university, Johnson knows Latin and Ancient Greek.

In a recent interview with talkRADIO, he moved, in minutes, from admission of making models of London buses out of cardboard boxes to being a fan of Pericles of Athens, a famous Greek statesman and orator who lived in the 5th century BC.


Johnsonian word-hoard includes phrases that caused offence

The Johnsonian word-hoard includes phrases that have caused offence, including referring to "piccaninnies" in the Commonwealth, which he later apologized for.

He also has described Muslim women in burkas as looking "like letter boxes." When recently asked about the comment during a televised debate, Johnson said he was sorry for any offence caused.

As a journalist, his car reviews were drenched in crude sexual metaphors about gearsticks, "chicks" and even an English county "lying back and opening her well-bred legs to be ravished by the Italian stallion" of a Ferrari F430.


Johnson proposed 'full British Brexit'

Johnson proposed a "full British Brexit" rather than a "bog roll Brexit," in a reference to toilet paper.

He also once suggested that then US President Barack Obama, whom he described as “part-Kenyan,” as nurturing an ancestral dislike for the British empire. And, he wrote an obscene limerick about President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

In 2016, during his time as Britain's foreign secretary, Johnson said that it would take far too long for him to apologize for the "rich thesaurus" of disobliging remarks he'd made about world leaders over the years that were "somehow misconstrued."