Bushism

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Bushisms are unconventional words, phrases, pronunciations, malapropisms, and semantic or linguistic errors that have occurred in the public speaking of President of the United States George W. Bush and, much less notably, of his father, George H. W. Bush.[1][2][3] The term has become part of popular folklore and is the basis of a number of websites and published books. It is often used to caricature the two presidents. Common characteristics include malapropisms, the creation of neologisms, spoonerisms, stunt words and grammatically incorrect subject-verb agreement.

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Discussion

Bush's use of the English language in formal and public speeches has spawned several books that document the statements. The first, Bushisms/President George Herbert Walker Bush in His Own Words, was released in 1992. A poem entitled "Make the Pie Higher", composed entirely of Bushisms, was compiled by cartoonist Richard Thompson.[4][5]

In 2008, the Plain English Campaign awarded George W. Bush a Lifetime Achievement Foot in Mouth Award for his "services to gobbledygook".[6][7] Conversely, linguist Mark Liberman of Language Log has suggested that Bush is not unusually error-prone in his speech, saying: "You can make any public figure sound like a boob, if you record everything he says and set hundreds of hostile observers to combing the transcripts for disfluencies, malapropisms, word formation errors and examples of non-standard pronunciation or usage... Which of us could stand up to a similar level of linguistic scrutiny?"[8] Nearly a decade after George W. Bush said "misunderestimated" in a speech, Philip Hensher called the term one of his "most memorable additions to the language, and an incidentally expressive one: it may be that we rather needed a word for 'to underestimate by mistake'."[9]

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