Bushisms are unconventional words, phrases, pronunciations, malapropisms, and semantic or linguistic errors in the public speaking of former President of the United States George W. Bush. 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 former president. Common characteristics include malapropisms, the creation of neologisms, spoonerisms, stunt words and grammatically incorrect subject-verb agreement.
Bush's use of the English language in formal and public speeches has spawned several books that document the statements. A poem entitled "Make the Pie Higher", composed entirely of Bushisms, was compiled by cartoonist Richard Thompson. Various public figures and humorists, such as Jon Stewart of The Daily Show and Garry Trudeau, creator of the comic strip Doonesbury, have popularized some more famous Bushisms.
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?" 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'."
I used to have the job of tutoring a dyslexic child, and I know something about the symptoms. So I kicked myself hard when I read the profile of Governor George W. Bush, by my friend and colleague Gail Sheehy, in this month's Vanity Fair. All those jokes and cartoons and websites about his gaffes, bungles and malapropisms? We've been unknowingly teasing the afflicted. The poor guy is obviously dyslexic, and dyslexic to the point of near-illiteracy.
Stanford Graduate School Lecturer and former Bush economic policy advisor Keith Hennessey has argued that the number of Bush's verbal gaffes is not unusual given the significant amount of time that he has spoken in public. Furthermore, if Barack Obama's speeches were given the same level of scrutiny, there would be a similar number of gaffes. Hennessey goes on to say that Bush tried to position himself as an average American, not as a "Cambridge or Upper East Side elite."
- "They misunderestimated me." — Bentonville, Arkansas; November 6, 2000
- "I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully." — Saginaw, Michigan; September 29, 2000
- "There's an old saying in Tennessee—I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, 'Fool me once, shame on...shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again.'" — Nashville, Tennessee; September 17, 2002
- "Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country." — Poplar Bluff, Missouri; September 6, 2004
- "I'm going to put people in my place, so when the history of this administration is written at least there's an authoritarian voice saying exactly what happened." (Announcing he would write a book about "the 12 toughest decisions" he had to make. Presumably "authoritative" was intended.)
- "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."
- "I'll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office." —President George W. Bush, in an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Washington, D.C., May 12, 2008
- "I'm the commander, see. I don't need to explain — I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the President. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation."
- "Yesterday, you made note of my—the lack of my talent when it came to dancing. But nevertheless, I want you to know I danced with joy. And no question Liberia has gone through very difficult times"- Speaking with the president of Liberia, Washington, D.C., Oct. 22, 2008 
- "This is still a dangerous world. It's a world of madmen and uncertainty and potential mental losses." (missile launches?)
- "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
- "I'm telling you there's an enemy that would like to attack America, Americans, again. There just is. That's the reality of the world. And I wish him all the very best." —Washington, D.C., Jan. 12, 2009
- "Well, I mean that a defeat in Iraq will embolden the enemy and will provide the enemy – more opportunity to train, plan, to attack us. That's what I mean. There – it's – you know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror."
- "I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace."
- "See, free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations don't attack each other. Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction."
- "You bet I cut the taxes at the top. That encourages entrepreneurship. What we Republicans should stand for is growth in the economy. We ought to make the pie higher."
- In January 2000, just before the New Hampshire primary, Bush challenged the members of the Nashua Chamber of Commerce to imagine themselves as a single mother "working hard to put food on your family."
- "You work three jobs? ... Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that." -Omaha, Nebraska, Feb. 4, 2005
- "Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?" — Florence, South Carolina; January 11, 2000
- "You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test."
- "As yesterday's positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured."
- Internets (a Bushism, pluralizing "Internet", that has become a catchphrase)
- Anguish Languish (examples of homophonic translation)
- Colemanballs (verbal gaffes by British sports commentators)
- Eggcorn (e.g. saying "old-timers' disease" instead of "Alzheimer's disease")
- Spoonerism (e.g. "Is it kisstomary to cuss the bride?")
- Strategery (a word coined by Saturday Night Live to satirize Bush)
- Yogiism (Yogi Berra)
- Bines, Jonathan (May 1992). Bushisms: President George Herbert Walker Bush in His Own Words. Workman Pub Co. ISBN 1-56305-318-7.
- "The 'misunderestimated' president?". BBC. January 7, 2009. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
The word "Bushism" has been coined to label his occasional verbal lapses during eight years in office, which come to an end on 20 January.
- Comics Reporter: Interview with Richard Thompson, January 25, 2008.
- "Make the Pie Higher!". Snopes.com. 2002. Retrieved October 12, 2006.
- Mark Liberman, "You say Nevada, I say Nevahda". January 3, 2004.
- Hensher, Philip (July 21, 2010). "Sarah Palin's struggle with English language". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
- "Why Dubya Can't Read". The Nation. Retrieved 2011-07-25.
- "Top Ten Bushisms: The Miseducation of America". Time. January 11, 2009. Retrieved March 2, 2009.
- "Top Ten Bushisms: Fish Are Friends". Time. January 11, 2009. Retrieved March 2, 2009.
- "Remarks by the President on Teaching American History and Civic Education". White House Archives. September 17, 2002. Retrieved December 18, 2010.
- "Top Ten Bushisms: The Love Doctor is In". Time. January 11, 2009. Retrieved March 2, 2009.
- "Bush Speech In Canada Met With Protests". CBS News.
- Simran Khurana. "Bush Quotes". About.com. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
- Jacob Weisberg (May 25, 2005). "Bushism of the Day". Slate.
- Daniel Kurtzman. "The 25 Dumbest Quotes of 2008". About.com. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
- "The 'misunderestimated' president?". BBC. January 7, 2009.
- Bob Woodward (November 19, 2002). Bush at War. Simon & Schuster. pp. 145–6. ISBN 978-0743204736.
- "Make the Pie Higher!". Snopes.com. July 21, 2008.
- "Top 10 Bushisms". Time. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
- Jacob Weisberg (March 20, 2009). "The Complete Bushisms". Slate.
- Caitlin Johnson (September 6, 2006). "Transcript: President Bush, Part 2". CBS News.
- "President George W. Bush Speaks to HUD Employees on National Homeownership Month". U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. June 18, 2002.
- "President Bush Discusses Economy, Small Business in Wisconsin". The White House. October 3, 2003.
- "GEORGE W. BUSH QUOTES II". NotableQuotes. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
- "'Misunderestimate' tops list of notable 'Bushisms'". New York Daily News. January 8, 2009.
- ""Childrens do learn," Bush tells school kids". Reuters. September 26, 2007.
- Frank, Justin A. (2004). Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-073670-4.
- Miller, Mark Crispin (2001). The Bush Dyslexicon: Observations on a National Disorder. Norton. ISBN 0-393-04183-2.
- Weisberg, Jacob. George W. Bushisms: The Accidental Wit and Wisdom of Our 43rd President. ISBN 0-7407-4456-9.
- Bines, Jonathan; Sullivan, Andrew; Weisberg, Jacob (May 1992). Bushisms: President George Herbert Walker Bush in His Own Words. Workman Pub. ISBN 1-56305-318-7.
- Elwin, Sherman B. George W. Bush – On The Trips Of His Tongue – A Linguistic Legacy. Lulu.com. ISBN 978-1-4303-1795-1.
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