More on Boca Raton vs. Boko Haram

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Following up on yesterday's post about Representative Paul Gosar's substitution of "Boca Raton" for "Boko Haram" ("Boko Haram, Boca Raton, whatever", 25/16/2015), I wanted to check the recording, since I know that journalist's direct quotes are often unreliable. I found the interview here (Paul Gosar interviewed by Carol Costello on CNN's Newsroom, Tuesday 2/10/2015; complete audio here), and transcribed the relevant Q&A:

Carol_Costello: If- if- if the family um I- I believe ISIS asked for a ransom for Kayla, should the U.S. government have considered that?
Paul Gosar: Well here's your problem, once you start doing that, then everybody, every American citizen traveling abroad becomes a- a subject
in regards for kidnapping and then the plight of we see uh
how much money has been uh cap- captivated in the Boca Raton uh uh group
uh there's liberties and freedoms that we have here in- in the United States
and it's a very hard choice but uh there's- there's consequences when we leave around the country, but that's why we have to hold people accountable for the injustices they do to humanity
but there's got to be a consistent policy, it's- it's heart breaking and heart wrenching
to see that people would attack those who only give the very best of humanity
uh for the plight of those people in war-torn areas
um or suffering debilitating diseases but
uh this makes it very very difficult uh on behalf of the- the security of this country and the future of- of terrorists

So in fact the quotation was pretty accurate, as journalistic renderings go:

every American citizen traveling abroad becomes a- a subject
every American citizen traveling abroad becomes    a subject

in regards for kidnapping and then the plight of we see uh
in regard  for kidnapping and then the plight of

how much money has been uh cap- captivated in the Boca Raton uh uh group
how much money has been         captivated in the Boca Raton       group

They omitted the disfluencies, which is normal and generally proper; and the regards/regard distinction is not very clear in the audio, though I'm pretty sure he said "in regards for" — so the only questionable editing is the omission of "we see", which doesn't change the meaning in a material way.

While I was at it, I transcribed the whole of the broadcast interview, and observed a number of other indications that Rep. Gosar, as his spokesperson explained, may have been suffering from a lack of sleep, besides his use of "captivated in" to mean something like "extorted by" in the passage above. Certainly he was in a state to illustrate many forms of lexical access gone wrong, scrambled morphosyntax, and other kinds of disfluency. (And anyone who is tempted to condescend to this man should walk a mile in his shoes, or rather speak for five minutes over the phone, under stress, to someone from CNN.)

His symptoms of possible sleep deprivation include the expression "in tragic's wake" here:

… a beautiful girl, a young g- person that gave her life to helping others uh that are in tragic's wake,

And there's his bill that amends the State Department's Rewards for Justice program for help in the "perpetration" of kidnappers:

… and allows the uh scrutiny of- of- and ability of five mill- up to five million dollars to help in the perpetration and brought to justice for those that kidnap and kill American citizens

He cites the terrorists' failure to bear "civilry" to do-gooders:

um we're not dealing with people that um uh bear- bear uh you know civilry to people that are trying to help others

He's concerned that President Obama doesn't have a "concisive" plan:

the problem is is I'm- I'm very critical in regards to um we don't seem to have a concisive co- cohesive plan

He may at one point be aiming at a version of "egregiously" with two hard g's:

It's not er- egregously (?) or erroneously putting our men and women in harm's way that are fighting out in behalf of our armed services and protecting our great country

 His response to Carol Costello's question about the president's war powers seems to be inspired by the idea that such powers "go with" the authority of commander in chief, but it's the commander who ends up going with the powers:

Well I think what we have to do is that- that's what uh a commander in chief goes with it, I want to see that

There's also a nice example of vernacular "was is":

… but the problem was is that the way that the savagery of ISIS and the war-torn aspect of Syria prohibited that- that as well

And there's more — read (and listen to) the whole thing. It's hard out there for a politician.


  1. Jerry Friedman said,

    February 17, 2015 @ 6:19 pm

    Do linguists learn a lot from this sort of data on how the system breaks down under stress? By analogy with other fields, I might think so, but I can't imagine how it would work for language.

    I've known a few people whose ordinary conversation seemed this incoherent to me. I wonder what Rep. Gosar sounds like when he's rested and no one from the media is around.

  2. richardelguru said,

    February 18, 2015 @ 6:57 am

    One of my kids lived in Boca Raton for a time, I've visited him there so I can easily see why Rep. Gosar made the mistake.

  3. JC said,

    February 20, 2015 @ 1:44 pm

    Boko Harem, they did "Whiter Shade of Pale," no?

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