Wednesday, December 03, 2008

"During I arrived in President"?

Bushisms are almost as yesterday as Palinisms, I suppose, but one from Bush's interview with Charlie Gibson keeps rolling around in my head, an answer about the economy:

GIBSON: Do you feel in any way responsible for what's happening?

BUSH: You know, I'm the President during this period of time, but I think when the history of this period is written, people will realize a lot of the decisions that were made on Wall Street took place over a decade or so, before I arrived in President, during I arrived in President.

In hearing it, I had corrected 'in' to 'as' somehow (assuming the transcript is right -- I don't see this in the video chunks online), but I can't get the 'during'. I don't know this as a dialect feature and it's an odd-sounding speech error somehow. But I do know it as a feature of non-native English. A Google search for "during I was" yields some results, but a lot clearly non-native English speakers.

What's going on here?

6 comments:

danweasel said...

The repeated phrase makes me think he said "before I arrived in President", realized he had spoken incorrectly, and simply chose the first modification to the phrase he could find. It seems like he's made less verbal mistakes as time has gone on, but when he's feeling pressured (as he must to not take blame for the current situation), maybe he is more prone to make mistakes like these.

The Ridger, FCD said...

I don't know why he says it, especially here, but a generic "during I was" from non-natives seems very reasonable. Their dictionaries probably say "during" and "while" are synonyms while giving them no usage advice.

Anonymous said...

Ok, The Ridger, maybe the "during I was" is reasonable for non-natives, but isn't English his first language? Besides, what about the latter half, "arrived in President" or even just "in President"? This is toddler-speak, or just gibberish. Truly embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

Jeez I don't know. Maybe the guy's, you know, one of those idiots I've heard so much about. Has he ever done or said anything else stupid?

Mr. Verb said...

Not that I can think of offhand. You know, just seems the kind of guy you'd want to have a beer with, except that he doesn't drink.

Anonymous said...

"You know, I'm the President during this period of time, but I think when the history of this period is written..."

Informally, this construct (viz., first-person pronoun + present stative verb in a subclause of a differently tensed larger construction) is used to stress the subjective / existential component of the narative (e.g., "The roof was collapsing, I'm running down the hall...", "He said he had, but I'm thinking to myself, 'He could be lying,' so I asked..."). Here it doesn't seem to be used that way. It seems that a simple past-tense was intended.

"...before I arrived in President,..."

Hmmm. "Arrived" sounds wrong, since the office of President isn't a place (I also instinctvely substituted "at" for "in" when I first heard the interview). It would have sounded better if he had said, "arrived in office," using "arrive" to refer to the obtaining of a condition or event (as in, "Fall has arrived"). But "President" is the title of the office, and won't work in that construction either. It seems that a simple past-tense was meant here, as well.

"...during I arrived in President."

Hmmm. I think a pervious comment is correct, this looks like a confusion of "during" and "while," combined with a repetition of the previous error. Possibly the durative aspect of the preopsition was meant to be stressed in reference to the taking of the office.

Assuming the above analysis is correct, Mr. Bush meant to say something like the following:

"You know, I was President during that period of time, but I think when the history of the period is written, people will realize a lot of the decisions that were made on Wall Street took place over a decade or so before I became President, [and] while I was transitioning to the office."