It’s just a slip of the tongue
We all make mistakes in speech and writing. There are factual errors, grammatical gaffes, spelling mistakes, mispronunciations and bad or absent punctuation. But we get away with it because we’re not in the spotlight.
Celebrities and politicians aren’t so lucky. They’re ever in the public eye; microphones and cameras are everywhere; and one slip of the tongue spreads like wildfire thanks to social networking sites and instant updates on smartphones.
Occasionally it borders on becoming a major diplomatic incident: recently during a news conference, France’s President François Hollande, speaking in French in Tokyo, referred to the Algerian hostage crisis in January in which 10 Japanese nationals died, saying he “expressed the condolences of the French people to the Chinese people”, and then made no attempt to correct his mistake. It was left to a quickthinking interpreter to fix the verbal gaffe as she gave her simultaneous translation, rendering the sentence as it had been intended.
The funnier ones seem to come from the US, with former Vicepresident Dan Quayle being something of a past master at delivery:
● “Welcome to President Bush, Mrs Bush and my fellow astronauts.”
● “I believe that I’ve made good judgements in the past, and I think I’ve made good judgements in the future.”
● “It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.”
● “I stand by all the misstatements that I’ve made.”
GeorgeWBush, too, was afflicted by foot-in-mouth disease:
● “You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.”
● “I promise you I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn’t here.” And one classic Freudian slip:
● “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.”