Words: mumbo jumbo, n. and adj.

THE WHITE House lawyer who denounced the House prosecutors' "legal mumbo jumbo" did not know what he was saying. The expression for meaningless talk probably derives from Mama Dyumbo, protective spirit of the Khassonkee tribe in Senegal, found in the 19th century: the chanting of its apparent powers is used to keep wives in order, hence something foolishly worshipped, which mutated into its current meaning.

Whatever, it is surely ill-advised in politically correct America to use a word which must anger informed African-Americans and feminists. Meanwhile, will Monty Python's revival include the Drury Lane character Mrs Niggerbaiter? "I don't like darkies!" shrieks John Cleese. "She doesn't like darkies . . . who does?"