July 12, 2007

Dropping the other shoe: "Republic[an]s and Democrats"

Well, I didn't think that he'd do it, but apparently he did. Lane Greene emailed that Waldo Jaquith and Andrew Sullivan reported  that President Bush used the phrase "Republics and Democrats" in his press conference this morning. This is news, of a sort, because of the fuss over W's previous uses of "Democrat" in place of "Democratic", argued to be part of a general Republican strategy to delegitimize, disrespect and annoy the majority party. After his last State of the Union message, W offered his Texas dialect as an excuse, along with the unrelated assertion that he's "not good at pronouncing words anyway". Roger Shuy investigated and found no general tendency for him to drop (the ends of) syllables -- at least not -ic -- but apparently syllables near -ic are also in danger, and apocope can happen even to Republic[an]s.

The press conference in question is this one. The transcript has "Republicans":

And as I mentioned, to talk to Bob Gates about it, as well as the Joint Chiefs about it, as well as consult with members of the Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, as I make a decision about the way forward in Iraq.

But what W says is pretty clearly "Republics":

As far as I know, this is neither a dialect feature nor a calculated slur, but simply a speech error. One hypothesis might be that the prospective repetition of [ən] in "Republicans and" ([ɹiˈpʌb.lə.kən.zən]) led to suppression of the first syllable nucleus.

Jon, commenting at Waldo Jaquith's site, quips that "a Republic is someone who belongs to the Republicanic party".

Then again, maybe it's just turn about as fair play. After all, it's now those Republic[an][ic]s who are becoming a thorn in W's side.

Posted by Mark Liberman at July 12, 2007 05:39 PM