Sandals, Sandwiches, Sanders, whatever…

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Megyn Kelly, reporting on the New Hampshire primary:

On the Democratic sides, Bernie Sandal- Sanders —
"Sandals", it could catch on —
in the summer months —
he has bested Hillary Clinton …

Chris Hayes, similarly (though less deftly dealt with):

But you see that play out in different ways,
in both Trump's — particularly closing message,
and railing against pharmaceutical companies and the like,
and Bernie Sandwiches- uh Sanders' message from the beginning, 

Two excellent examples of Fay-Cutler malapropisms, right up there with "Liszt's second Hungarian restaurant".

Taking into account the "syntactic category rule", and the tendency to have a similar phonological shape, a shared initial syllable, etc., there are not a lot of other options. Maybe Bernie Sandtrap? Bernie Sandblast? Bernie Sandman? I think the second syllables are too heavy in those, alas.

And two substitutions for one politician's name in one news cycle? What are the odds?

I haven't heard of any similar inadvertant substitutions for Trump, any of the Bushes, any of the Clintons, etc. Or "Ted Cruel"? "Mike Huckleberry"? "Marco Rubicon"? Not so far.



  1. thecynicalromantic said,

    February 11, 2016 @ 10:16 am

    Birds Rights Activist did it too:

  2. Victor Mair said,

    February 11, 2016 @ 10:17 am

    Quick guesses as to how these two particular malapropisms may have occurred (through subliminal suggestion):

    1. Sandals — he's a hippy type (she even stresses it a bit by cleverly saying, "it could catch on"; she giggles and another person is heard to giggle too)

    2. Sandwiches — a common man of the people

  3. Pflaumbaum said,

    February 11, 2016 @ 10:30 am

    Surely 'sandwiches' was influenced by the upcoming word 'message'.

    [(myl) Hayes has said that he was looking at a plate of sandwiches when he made the mistake.]

  4. popegrutch said,

    February 11, 2016 @ 11:02 am

    Seems like I did hear "Mike Huckleberry" waaayy back in 2008. I think people have gotten used to him being a candidate now, and know how to say it. The single-syllable names don't lend themselves to this very well – who's going to accidentally say "Donald Crump?" I like "Marco Rubicon," but you'd need a classical education to be prone to that mistake. We've been saying "Clinton" and "Bush" for so long now that no one's going to slip on those.
    It just confirms what I've been saying all along, we need some more interesting names in this race.

  5. Acilius said,

    February 11, 2016 @ 11:50 am

    "Bernie Sandwiches" sounds like a nickname for a particularly unthreatening organized crime figure. Not so much Murder Incorporated as Littering LLC.

  6. Paul Sand said,

    February 11, 2016 @ 12:18 pm

    A few years back, my wife was lecturing about the history of diet fads. She stated:

    "And that man's name was Alexander Graham Cracker."

    (Meaning to say: Sylvester Graham, inventor of the original Graham Cracker.)

    Seems like a number of these invove food.

  7. Philip Anderson said,

    February 11, 2016 @ 12:26 pm

    Single-syllable names can certainly trip people up. Take the British politician Jeremy Hunt, whose surname was famously mispronounced as Cunt on the highly-respectable Today programme.

  8. rosie said,

    February 11, 2016 @ 12:42 pm

    The presenter James Naughtie was supposed to say "Jeremy Hunt the Culture Secretary", so the [k] was influenced by the [k] of Culture. In a cabinet reshuffle in 2012, Hunt was made Health Secretary. Or, as Eddie Mair put it when announcing that appointment, "Jeremy Hunt gets a department beginning with H".

  9. Jean-Sébastien Girard said,

    February 11, 2016 @ 12:42 pm

    The Sandal one is not anywhere as crazy as it may seems, Sandals is the family name of the current Ontario minister of education.

  10. Q. Pheevr said,

    February 11, 2016 @ 12:46 pm

    Of all your hypothetical examples, "Mike Huckleberry" seems the most likely, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if popegrutch is right about having heard it in 2008. Huckabee is a relatively uncommon name, and the phonological overlap with huckleberry is pretty strong, and maybe there's also some opportunity for priming based on a regional affinity with Huckleberry Finn.

    There are some other low-frequency names out there, but I don't know that they map quite so readily onto good Fake-Utter malapropisms. Dan Savage has made santorum at least as salient a noun in some people's vocabularies as, say, sanatorium, and I can't quite picture anyone getting John Kasich mixed up with Chiang Kai-shek.

  11. Jacob said,

    February 11, 2016 @ 1:13 pm

    In the spirit of Mel Brooks, how about "Bernie Sandurz"?

  12. Laura Morland said,

    February 11, 2016 @ 2:40 pm

    Having made my way through grad school as a professional transcriptionist, I can't help but question how you chose to transcribe Megyn Kelly's malaprop. When I first saw it in my inbox, I took it for some kind of political poem, à la Emily Dickinson.

    On the Democratic sides, Bernie Sandal- Sanders —
    "Sandals", it could catch on —
    in the summer months —
    he has bested Hillary Clinton …

    Here's how I'd transcribe it:

    On the Democratic side, Bernie Sandals, Sanders ("Sandals" — it could catch on, in the summer months), has bested Hillary Clinton.

  13. David Fried said,

    February 11, 2016 @ 4:01 pm

    In 2008, I had trouble remembering "Huckabee" and definitely referred to him as "Huckleberry" more than once. I think I was influenced by "my huckleberry friend" from the lyrics to "Moon River." "Mike Huckleberry Friend"?

  14. J. W. Brewer said,

    February 11, 2016 @ 4:53 pm

    Turns out there's a separate real politician (a Democrat) named The surname frequency database from the 2000 U.S. census says that Huckabee (3101 instances, tied for 9621st most common) is definitely more common that Huckleberry (806 instances, tied for 28005th most common) as a surname, but the latter may obviously be a more common lexical item in other contexts. Surname distribution in the U.S. has a pretty long tail, so it's not uncommon to come across one you've never personally encountered before but which turns out not to be unique.

  15. Steve Morrison said,

    February 11, 2016 @ 9:07 pm

    For E. Nesbit fans, Sandal was the name of a brother-and-sister pair of crackpot idealists; they appeared in at least one of the Bastable stories and in her novel The Wonderful Garden.

  16. Y said,

    February 11, 2016 @ 9:08 pm

    This reminds me of when Dick Armey infamously called Barney Frank "Barney Fag". Of course, "Bernie Sandals" and "Bernie Sandwiches" are not that offensive. In the case of 'sandals' at least, the 'hippie' association could be to blame, just as the 'gay' association was to blame in the Armey/Frank case. It's also possible that Armey was echoing a nickname for Frank that he'd heard in private.

  17. Ray said,

    February 11, 2016 @ 11:03 pm

    I keep hearing charlie rose refer to marco rubio as mario. (which is better, I suppose, than my friend who keeps saying mark o'rubio). :-)

  18. Michael said,

    February 12, 2016 @ 7:12 am

    It is LIszt, not Lizst (Hungarian sz is pronounced s)

  19. David Morris said,

    February 12, 2016 @ 6:38 pm

    Is it feasible that someone's going to call him 'Colonel Sanders'?

  20. Barney said,

    February 13, 2016 @ 3:10 pm

    Many broadcasters in the UK have made the same mistake when referring to the politician Jeremy Hunt. Of course it's entirely possible that some of them made the mistake on purpose.

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