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While I was watching the TV series "Billions," there was a dialogue between two people working for Axe Capital. They argue about smart guns and say:

(A says smart guns can be a ten-bagger. Then B says...)

B: Can you still say "idiot"? Or do they dock your pay for being insensitive?

A: Can you still say "trodglodyte"? Or do they fire you for telling the truth?

I can't figure out what they're trying to say. Why do they mention "idiot" and "trodglodyte" in the sentences? Does B think A is an idiot?

Could you please help me understand this dialogue? Thank you so much!

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  • Please explain what exactly you don't understand.
    – alphabet
    Commented Apr 14, 2023 at 1:54

1 Answer 1

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I can't figure out what they're trying to say. Why do they mention "idiot" and "trodglodyte" in the sentences?

This has mostly to do with pragmatics. B doesn't literally want an answer to his questions. He is implying that he wants to call A an "idiot" but might get in trouble for being "insensitive". (The question about docking pay is itself probably rhetorical; it's unlikely that pay would actually be docked for the use of such a word.) A, of course, mimics B; this mimicry itself might be seen as a kind of mocking of what B said.

Does B think A is an idiot?

Probably not. "Idiot" is a common insult and often not meant literally.

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  • All true. And after "asking" permission to call someone an idiot (which you just did), "worrying" about being PC just adds to the insult. (= Go F yourself, or am I being insensitive?) Commented Apr 14, 2023 at 2:15
  • Agreed. All I can add is that “Can you still say idiot” means something like “It would once have been apt to say idiot, but is that now permissible?”
    – Anton
    Commented Apr 14, 2023 at 6:41
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    Idiot was once a technical term for a person with a particular level of learning difficulty, but is now just an informal term for a person the speaker thinks is foolish. A troglodyte is a cave-dweller, hence a primitive and uncivilised person. Commented Apr 14, 2023 at 7:42

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