You'd think the most powerful man on earth would take the time and trouble to learn how to pronounce the names of countries and leaders he must deal with. Nope.
George Bush gave a rare insight into his struggle with pronunciation yesterday when the White House mistakenly released an unedited script of his speech to the UN General Assembly.Other pronunciation guides in Bush's speech (on which, more shortly) were Mugabe (moo-GAH-bee), Harare (hah-RAR-ray) and Mauritania (moor-EH-tain-ee-a).
The President, famous for mangling the pronunciation of “nuclear”, coining words such as “misunderestimate” and once forgetting the name of President Musharraf of Pakistan, gets a phonetic guide to key foreign names, the text reveals.
Mr Bush is coached not only on far-flung foreign places such as “KEYR-geez-stan” but also the name of his new French ally, President “sar-KO-zee”. He received no aid with the pronunciation of the Burmese opposition leader, and duly stumbled when he tried to pronounce “Aung San Suu Kyi”.
David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter, told The Times that all presidential speeches contained phonetic guides, but passing the unedited version to the press was an “oversight”.
Fer Chrissakes - he's met Sarkozy! People keep saying Bush isn't a total moron - which can only indicate a lazy arrogance in not bothering to learn or remember how to pronounce a major Western ally's name properly.
Update The White House spin is that the phoenetic spellings were there as an aide to UN interpreters - professional language experts. Yeah, right.