The libido, the life force, the essence, the right stuff.

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VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
Dr Evil: Austin Powers always defeats me because he has mojo.
Number 2: Mojo?
Dr Evil: Mojo. The libido, the life force, the essence, the right stuff. What the French call a certain... I don't know what.
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, film

Grammatically, at least the first two items don't need the article since they are uncountable here. So I think all the definite articles imply those are the things necessary for Powers to defeat Dr Evil. Am I correct?
Thank you.
 
  • VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Another look at what those articles could mean here is he assumes that those four things are familiar to the speaker and so he uses "the". Like:
    — Look, there's Anna.
    — Anna?
    — Anna, the girl I told you about yesterday.

    Is that it?
     
    Last edited:

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I don’t think there is a reason but I don’t think it matters because all of the things are simply there to lead up to what strikes me as the main joke of the piece. He is apparently fishing for the right word, hence the list. Then he turns to the French.

    “What the French call a certain ... I don’t know what.”
    This made me laugh out loud because it sounds silly, as though he’s about to say what the French call it but he actually doesn’t know it.

    Plus, he has achieved that by translating a French phrase that is widely used like this to describe something wonderful but hard to define: “ a certain je ne sais quoi”.
    “Je ne sais quoi” does literally translate to “I don’t know what” but loses all its subtle french-idiomatic meaning in the process.

    Comedy genius. :D
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    That is, if he'd said it like this:

    Mojo. Libido, life force, essence, the right stuff.

    ... would it be still sound correct?:)
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    That is, if he'd said it like this:

    Mojo. Libido, life force, essence, the right stuff.

    ... would it be still sound correct?:)
    I suppose so. I don't really go along with this sort of re-writing, though. Authors do what they do for their own reasons and I can't really presume to alter their work.
     
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