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A lovely example of a Fay-Cutler malapropism, i.e. a lexical substitution error:

I think what I want to do
is I want to talk just for second I wrote this out
and it's very close to my heart because I was down there
and I watch our police and our firemen down on 7-Eleven
down at the world trade center right after it came down
and I saw the greatest people I've ever seen in action
I saw the bravest people I've ever seen
including the construction workers
including every person down there
that's what New York values ((are)) about.

And so I wrote out a little something
and I'd like to talk about
the New York values
that we all know so well.

The values that make us love
this state
despite its problems
we love this state
we know it's going to come back.
If I'm president
it's going to come back so fast you won't even believe it.
You watch.

For those readers who don't know what "7-Eleven" is, you can get a clue from this page — it's a chain of convenience stores named for the concept that they're open from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., seven days a week.

If you don't know what "9/11" is, good luck to you.

As to what a Fay-Cutler malapropism is, there's some discussion in "Defendants wrongly committed of a crime" (8/4/2011), or you could go to the source: David Fay and Anne Cutler, "Malapropisms and the Structure of the Mental Lexicon", Linguistic Inquiry 8(3), 1977.

Update — more here, on the humor rather than the psycholinguistics angle:

I know everybody took a Big Gulp when I changed 9/11 to 7-Eleven last year. They thought I was a stupid person. A loser! Erin Gloria Ryan of Vocativ said I would start talking about the Japanese bombing of Pearl Jam and the Native Americans’ Trail of Sears. Other terrible people — the worst! — thought I would refer to the eBay of Pigs, the Normandy landing on DQ Day, the Dodge Challenger disaster, Black & Decker Tuesday of 1929, the 1906 San FranCisco Systems Fire and the 1814 burning of the White Castle by the British.  

Wrong! Turning 9/11 into 7-Eleven was the beginning of something huge. Phenomenal! The people at 7-Eleven — great retailer, decent coffee, convenient! — loved it. Loved it! They said to me: Mr. Trump, if you could mention us and other corporations more often at unexpected moments, we think it would really help to Make America Great Again. And I said: We will do even better. We will Make America Great Again by selling some of our greatest assets to you and to America’s other great corporations.


  1. Faldone said,

    April 19, 2016 @ 11:02 am

    Looking at this in some detail I've run across a comment stating that the seven eleven reference is to the bases of the first responders, police and fire fighters, but looking I can't find it again.

  2. Aaron Toivo said,

    April 19, 2016 @ 11:06 am

    I was thinking that perhaps the error was helped along by phonological interference from (the first syllable of) the alternative phrasing for 9/11, the "September 11th attacks".

    But now that I hear the recording, his pronunciation sounds rather confident for a midstream word-mixing error.

  3. Jonathon Owen said,

    April 19, 2016 @ 11:32 am

    Malapropism aside, am I the only one who's suspicious of Trump's claim that he was at Ground Zero watching the rescue efforts immediately after the towers collapsed on 9/11? Elsewhere he has said, "I was in my apartment in the Trump Tower. I knew what was happening because I can see downtown to the Financial district.”

  4. Anschel Schaffer-Cohen said,

    April 19, 2016 @ 12:03 pm

    @Jonathon Owen: And he also also said he saw people celebrating the attacks in Jersey City. The man is very observant.

  5. BenHemmens said,

    April 19, 2016 @ 12:38 pm

    Has he visited all 57 States, like Obama did?

  6. Chris C. said,

    April 19, 2016 @ 2:06 pm

    Speaking just for myself, using a number for the month *always* trips me up in the latter third of the year. September really ought to be 7, no?

  7. Guy said,

    April 19, 2016 @ 2:18 pm

    @Chris C.

    I really can't forgive Numa Pompilius for adding the two new months of January and February and apparently deciding the year should start with January but not renaming the number months. At least we can thank Julius and Augustus for mitigating the problem by getting months named after them so we don't have Quintember and Sextember.

  8. David Morris said,

    April 19, 2016 @ 5:18 pm

    Being Australian, I use day/month/year and I usually write 11 September (2001) (pronounced 'the eleventh of September'). But I usually say 'September the eleventh', even though I give my birthday as 'the fourth of September'.

    Many 7-Elevens are open 24 hours a day.

  9. Electric Dragon said,

    April 19, 2016 @ 6:28 pm

    The company I work for uses an application called Redmine for issue and bug tracking. On one conference call with a client, one of my colleagues referred to it, not once, but several times, as "Minecraft".

  10. January First-of-May said,

    April 19, 2016 @ 8:35 pm


    Starting the year in January was a Christian thing, IIRC. (I'm pretty sure I've read a good discussion on Stack Exchange, but can't recall where exactly.)
    Numa Pompilius (apparently, not much evidence about him) added January and February to a year that previously didn't have them and somehow made do (is that a word?) with 10 months. It probably started in March before, and definitely started in March after.
    Even that was not quite enough (as the Jewish calendar shows, a year should really have 12.4 months or so, but that's a bit hard to set up), and the result was a big mess up until Julius, who made the surprising step of making the months longer so that 12 would be enough (possibly based on the Egyptian system), and the extra-surprising step of adding a leap day (almost certainly based on Egyptian astronomy, which proposed it several centuries earlier). The year still started in March.

    In some cultures, years continued to start in March for many more centuries, though most of the medieval European places that did it decided to start on March 25 instead, leaving the rest of March to the previous year. (And wasn't *that* a mess?)
    I think England (and its American colonies) were actually the last of the Western countries to switch to January, in 1752 (I believe that some non-Western countries switched even later, but most of their calendars were not directly based on the Roman one). Russia, perhaps the last to use the original March 1 date, switched in the late 15th century… to September (then to January in 1700).

    And just for the record, Quintilis and Sextilis, not "Quintember and Sextember".

  11. Rubrick said,

    April 19, 2016 @ 11:55 pm

    I hope that at least once in history someone has accidentally referred to a Jay Cutler malapropism.

  12. AntC said,

    April 20, 2016 @ 12:04 am

    @January First, yes the year (at least the financial and legal year) did start in March (25th as you say – roughly Equinox) up until mid-C17th in the UK. I remember reading in Claire Tomalin's biography of Pepys that the changover was gradual, making it "a nightmare" to be sure about dates.

    When the UK did finally align its calendar, rather than 'lose' eight-ish days, the tax year was moved to 5th April.

  13. Andrew (not the same one) said,

    April 20, 2016 @ 6:34 am

    The 'year begins on the 25th March' thing was not a continuation of the Roman custom, but a distinctively Christian thing, counting years from the (estimated) date of Christ's conception.

    It's true that, at a much earlier point, the political year in Rome began on the first of March, that being the day on which consuls were inaugurated – and since you specified the year by saying who the consuls were, that was also the new year for historical purposes. It was moved to January because of some specific political crisis. I have an idea that January (dedicated to the god of doors) may have been a religious new year even before that, though.

  14. Adam Roberts said,

    April 20, 2016 @ 8:11 am

    The slip almost certainly had to do with a confusion between the date 9/11 and the convenience store: but for a fraction of a second I wondered if Trump was half-confusing '9/11' with the London terrorist attack on the 7th July, known as '7/7'. This is unlikely, I suppose.

  15. Brett said,

    April 20, 2016 @ 10:01 am

    @Adam Roberts: Referring to the London subway bombings as "7/7" disappeared pretty quickly in America. I doubt it would be on the tip of Trump's tongue.

  16. andyb said,

    April 20, 2016 @ 2:28 pm

    I've only skimmed a few articles touching on this story, but I'm amazed that nobody's connected it to George Bush Sr. getting Pearl Harbor Day 3 months off during the 1988 election campaign. Some of them actually have the words "Bush" and "Pearl Harbor" in them, because they're referring back to October, when Trump implied that Bush Jr. was at fault for 9/11, the worst attack on America since Pearl Harbor. But still, nobody made the connection to Bush's dad's biggest campaign gaffe.

    On 7 September, Bush was giving a standard campaign speech, when he diverted from his prepared text to announce, "Today, you remember, I wonder how many Americans remember, today is Pearl Harbor Day. Forty seven years ago to this very day, we were hit and hit hard at Pearl Harbor, and we were not ready." He went back to his notes for a couple minutes before realizing the mistake, at which point he said, "Did I say September 7? Sorry about that—December 7, 1941. Forty seven years. I'm glad I corrected that. I saw this guy shaking me off out here."

    According to his spokeswoman later, he was planning to tell a story about 2 September (the day he got shot down—and he actually had told that story earlier in the speech, although without the date), and a story about hearing about Pearl Harbor while he was in church on 7 December, and somehow his brain mixed up the dates to 2 December and 7 September. And then, once he realized today was 7 September, he couldn't figure out why he hadn't written anything about Pearl Harbor Day in his speech, so decided to wing it.

    I wish someone had recorded the Bush team behind the scenes after that speech, trying to figure out how and why he'd made the mistake (and then, of course, how to spin that). How often do people do folk psycholinguistics with that much urgency?

    Anyway, Bush managed to turn his gaffe into a positive, later working in a joke about Christmas in the 25 September debates to show that "Nobody's perfect, as nice as it would be". I can't imagine Donald Trump pulling it off the same way; he'll probably threaten to sue anyone who mentions July in the same room as him.

  17. Chris C. said,

    April 20, 2016 @ 5:17 pm

    I'd further point out that the Roman Empire most certainly would not have started their year on 25 March, not least because there was no such date for them. The corresponding date for them was 7 days before the Kalends of May. I do believe that the pre-Christian Roman calendar had February for its last month, which has something to do with why we add leap days there. (Technically, the day is not added to the end of the month, but after February 23, the original last day of the year.)

    There's yet another new year to consider, still observed by the Orthodox as the ecclesiastical new year on 1 September, corresponding to when Roman tax assessments were recomputed on a 15 year cycle, the "indiction". Years were then given as the year of the indiction.

  18. Robert said,

    April 21, 2016 @ 12:37 am

    I seem to remember Ali G referring to 9/11 as 7/11. Perhaps this is a delayed action of the effect he used on Pat Buchanan to get him to refer to WMDs as BLTs.

  19. Rodger C said,

    April 21, 2016 @ 6:51 am

    "While looking for BLTs, he was wounded by an IUD."

  20. Patrick B said,

    April 21, 2016 @ 12:41 pm

    It was all a crypto reference to Building 7, I'm betting…

  21. Jerry Friedman said,

    April 21, 2016 @ 4:03 pm

    Chris C.: Judaism has four New Years, but of course they occur on different Gregorian dates every year.

  22. pj said,

    April 22, 2016 @ 6:02 am

    @Chris C. –

    25 March […] was 7 days before the Kalends of May

    I think April has always been there, no?

  23. andyb said,

    April 22, 2016 @ 1:57 pm

    @Robert: "I seem to remember Ali G referring to 9/11 as 7/11."

    Right at the start of his first HBO episode: "Booyakasha! America has invented some of the bestest things in the world. McDonald's, gangsta rap, spaghetti and swimming. I like swimming. But your country's got problems too. There's been 'nuff sadness since the terrible events of 7/11."

  24. Second Responder said,

    April 23, 2016 @ 2:44 pm

    As the first commenter, Faldone, suggested, there is a theory that 7-11 here refers here to a local nickname for the fire station in question (Engine 7, Ladder 1, Batallion 1). A New Yorker might know that.

    An argument against that theory would be that 'on 7-11', with the preposition 'on', most likely refers to a date. However, the 'at' of the subsequent phrase 'down at the world trade center' in the transcription Mark provides here is not really recoverable from the recording. It sounds more like 'down on the world trade center'. If so, that fits the theory that 7-11 is meant as a place, not a date.


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