Malaprop from Calgary

In his first speech since leaving the presidency, George W. Bush announced that he plans to write a book, and in so doing stumbled into a malapropism. From the 17 March AP story by Rob Gillies, as carried by MSNBC:

CALGARY, Alberta – Former President George W. Bush said that he won’t criticize Barack Obama because the new U.S. president “deserves my silence,” and said he plans to write a book about the 12 toughest decisions he made in office.

… The invitation-only event titled a “Conversation with George W. Bush” attracted close to 2,000 guests who paid US$3,100 per table. Bush received two standing ovations from the predominantly business crowd.

… Bush said that he doesn’t know what he will do in the long term but that he will write a book that will ask people to consider what they would do if they had to protect the United States as president.

He said it will be fun to write and that “it’s going to be (about) the 12 toughest decisions I had to make.”

“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,” Bush said.

This could be an ordinary classical malapropism (Bush thinks authoritarian means ‘authoritative). Or it could be a Fay/Cutler malapropism, an inadvertent error in word retrieval, based on phonological similarity. Many commenters have suggested it was a Freudian slip.

(Hat tip to Geoff Pullum.)

Leave a Reply