September 23, 2003

Bush's understanding of factive verbs

In his post Verb semantics and justifying war, Geoff Pullum says that the Bush adminstration plays fast and loose with its presupposition triggers. However, it is possible to interpret the following passage as evidence that Bush doesn't use factive verbs the way that normal English speakers do:
"That woman who knew I had dyslexia---I never interviewed her.''
---NEW YORK TIMES, SEPTEMBER 16, 2000 [George W. Bush speaking of Gail Sheely]
Overlooked in all the merriment was the statement's inadvertent confirmation of the Sheely thesis: "That woman who knew I had dyslexia'' makes clear that the reporter got it right---otherwise, Bush would have used "said" or "claimed".

(Mark Crispin Miller. 2001. The Bush Dyslexicon. New York: W. W. Norton and Company (p. 102))

Posted by Christopher Potts at September 23, 2003 07:26 PM