At last - an explanation for 'bunga bunga'
The phrase "bunga bunga" has become inextricably linked with the private life of Italy's Silvio Berlusconi, and for those who have puzzled over its origins an intriguing new explanation of its meaning has been offered.
The comical-sounding phrase made its first appearance back in October, when 17-year-old Moroccan belly dancer Karima El Mahroug - who calls herself Ruby - said she had attended "bunga bunga" parties with other women at Mr Berlusconi's villa in Milan.
Italian newspapers immediately scrambled to find out its origins.
The finger of blame was initially laid upon Mr Berlusconi's friend Col Muammar Gaddafi, with allegations of parties hosted by the Libyan leader involving "harems" of young Western women.
Then stories circulated claiming the phrase owed its origins to a bawdy joke, which Mr Berlusconi's detractors claimed was one of his favourites.
Then this week Sabina Began, German actress and friend of the Italian prime minister, told Sky Italia that she herself was bunga bunga.
"'Bunga bunga' is simply my nickname," the 36-year-old said.
It's a credible-sounding explanation: "Began" and "Bunga" are not so different, and the repetition gives it a more informal, nickname-like quality.
"Everyone thinks: 'My God! What does that mean?" she is quoted as saying. Ms Began went on to explain that it was she who had organised the parties for Mr Berlusconi.
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How it has caught onThe phrase "bunga bunga", is having a global impact, says Paul JJ Payack, president of The Global Language Monitor in the US.
"One of our databases that searches the top global media found almost 800 stories spread across the world.
"Since Mr Berlusconi was reported as saying that he learned harem-style rituals frοm hіѕ friend, Col Gaddafi, the phrase has been reported in Arabic-language news stories.
"On our Chinese search engines there were over 2000 references to news stories in Chinese.
"Finally, we found thousands of references in Russian.
"Will it make the English language lexicon? It certainly seems headed that way. It needs a minimum of 25,000 references with the necessary depth and breadth. It currently has 744,000 references on Google."
Global Language Monitor
The expression has quickly become part of the Italian vocabulary, says Italian journalist Annalisa Piras, even though no-one really knows what it means.
The theory that it features in Mr Berlusconi's favourite joke is a popular one, she says.
The joke isn't new - it can be found on the internet Urban Dictionary - but in Italy it has been given a political twist. It goes like this:
Two of Mr Berlusconi's political opponents are captured by an African tribe. They are asked whether they would prefer to die or undergo bunga bunga. The first one opts for bunga bunga, and is immediately subjected to a sexual assault by members of the tribe. The second one, who now grasps what "bunga bunga" means, says he would prefer to die. To which the chief of the tribe replies: "Okay, you will die - but before you will have bunga bunga."