Politicians Struggling With English

As English becomes ever more established as the world’s lingua franca, more and more people have to perform parts of their jobs in English. This may be true for you. It’s certainly true for high-ranking politicians. And sometimes they struggle.

There is a long history of politicians inflicting their less-than-perfect English on the world, from Heinrich Lübke’s words – „Equal goes it loose“ – to the Queen while awaiting the start of a military tattoo (although this may not be a true story) to the incomprehensible speech by current Italian prime minister in the video below:

But the fact that politicians who speak English as a second (or third, or fourth…) language have some problems with it shouldn’t surprise anyone. What’s really shocking is what comes out of the mouths of native English-speaking politicians.

Some US politicians really stand out in this regard. Enough has been said about George W. Bush in recent years, but let’s take a moment to remember Dan Quayle, vice president to Bush the elder. Quayle was famous for his almost poetically confusing statements. For example:

  • „Votes are like trees, if you are trying to build a forest. If you have more trees than you have forests, then at that point the pollsters will probably say you will win.“
  • „If you give a person a fish, they’ll fish for a day. But if you train a person to fish, they’ll fish for a lifetime.“
  • „This isn’t a man who is leaving with his head between his legs.“
  • „The future will be better tomorrow.“
  • „We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur.“

He also struggled a little with spelling, and wanted to make sure that the children of America would suffer the same fate: