September 26, 2007

Bush Phonetic Guide

So a non-final version of Bush’s UN speech was leaked on the UN website yesterday. Some people are amused that this speech contained phonetic spellings for a number of hard-to-pronounce names. I’m going to come to a rare defense of the president and say that such practices are common for public speakers. If you’re not familiar with certain words, reading them off a prompter becomes difficult.

Do you know the capital of Zimbabwe? It’s Harare (or “hah-RAR-ray”). The president would have no trouble pronouncing this if he lived next door to Harare. It is unfamiliar, foreign, and obscure to him. Why shouldn’t he have help?

So, in the interest of good pronunciation, I’ve listed here a few more of the words that the president needs to have spelled phonetically in his speeches because of his complete lack of familiarity. Enjoy.

  • ON-ess-tee
  • ree-AL-it-tee
  • SIV-ill-LIB-burr-tees
  • COM-pet-tents
  • dip-PLO-muss-see
  • SY-ents REE-surch
  • CORE-pore-it rees-ponce-uh-BILL-itty

Did I miss any?

Posted by James at September 26, 2007 11:30 AM
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Posted by: Julie at September 26, 2007 12:14 PM

Yes that was mine too. here's the phonetic spelling from the dictionary since spelling it correctly apparently doesn't help him. The trick is to make him not realize what word he's saying until it's too late.


"Oh shit I wanted to say new-kew-ler damn now people will think I'm some fancy pants Yale frat boy or something instead of a down home, brush clearin' texan.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at September 26, 2007 12:46 PM

How about these?


I agree about the phonetics though. And why rag on that, when there is so much of substance to criticize.

Posted by: briwei at September 26, 2007 12:58 PM


Posted by: Mike at September 26, 2007 1:42 PM

The story, and Bush's handlers, mispronounced Sarkozy. It's sar-ko-ZEE.

And yes, I do know the capital of Zimbabwe is Harare, and how to pronounce it, and the president can, too, if he bothers to read the paper and listen to the news on BBC or NPR.

I can't wait to see the back of him. Fool.

Posted by: Patti M. at September 26, 2007 2:25 PM

I'll bet he's one of those people who says IN-surance, too.

I hate that.

Posted by: Patti M. at September 26, 2007 2:26 PM

How about: EYE ree-ZINE

Posted by: Chuck S. at September 26, 2007 2:33 PM

How about helping him with "America"?

Say this: a-ME-ri-kah

Not this: 'MR-uh-kuh

Posted by: Patti M. at September 26, 2007 2:34 PM

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