How Bush talks

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OHIO.EDU
Sat Dec 30 18:41:31 UTC 2006

Wasn't it Arvilla Payne who studied the effect of "outsider" parents on the
dialect acquisition of children?  The senior Bushies (oops--Bushes) would
have some influence on their kids, but the local peer group (in Texas)
would be dominant.  So GW's "authentic" accent is colored by his mixed
background, as well as by later influences, including the public
persona.  Note how different Jeb Bush sounds; we know that adult moves to
other areas can influence the "core" accent, as they clearly have in his case.

GW's public accent is colored by his unfortunate "reading out loud" voice,
with its "a" pronounced not as schwa but as [e] and, as noted, his
voiceless /s/ in all contexts, as well as his over-segmentation of
words.  I suspect he'd never hire a coach to teach him "Texan" (he's very
proud of his roots, mixed though they may be), but he's clearly been
influenced by reading teachers and/or public-speaking coaches.

At 11:20 AM 12/30/2006, you wrote:
>This is an interesting question, because it raises the whole issue of what is
>or is not "authentic." One way of approaching it would be to listen to
>samples of W's speech in relatively informal, intimate situations. If he
>accent for public consumption, then one might be justified in saying that his
>public voice is not authentic. But an individual's selection of a base
>is, as we know from the extensive sociolinguistic research of the past 20-30
>years, very complex and only partly conscious--as is their selection of
>performance accents. W's public accent has always sounded to me like that
>of a man so
>unsure of his REAL identity that he fixed fiercely upon what seemed to be a
>tough-guy cowboy lingo and clung tenaciously to it at whatever cost and in
>whatever situation. But In have to admit that this is not a professional
>nor is it one that may not have been colored by my view of the man's politics
>and biography.
>In a message dated 12/30/06 10:53:18 AM, cdoyle at UGA.EDU writes:
> > A couple of days ago, I referred to President Bush as "not a REAL Texan."
> > Of course, I was being facetious, and not altogether respectful.  More
> > specifically, though:
> >
> > I was born and raised in Texas, got all my formal education there, and I
> > have listened to thousands of Texans speak.  Although the Lone Star State
> > encompasses a number of dialects and sub-dialects, the "Texas accent"
> of the
> > president (himself a sheltered scion of Connecticut Yankee stock) has
> always
> > sounded unauthentic to me.  I am being impressionistic here--not at all
> analytical.
> >
> > Has any dialectologist carefully studied Bush's speech patterns?  Is there
> > evidence that he ever engaged a speech coach--maybe one of those who teach
> > Hollywood actors to badly imitate Texans or Southerners in general?
> >
> > Just wondering . . . .
> >
> > --Charlie
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society -
> >
> >
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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