Speech errors

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There are rumors that Donald Trump's campaign staff is feeling stressed —

Maybe it's just lack of sleep, but Mr. Manafort's Meet The Press interview last Sunday does seem remarkably disfluent. He exhibits an unusual number of unusually complex self-corrections; and even more strikingly, he swaps the names of Clinton and Obama ("the policies that were put together in Jan- in January of two thousand nine by President Clinton and Secretary Obama") and then substitutes "Clinton" for "Trump" ("uh and- and if it's midnight in America, like she accused Mister Clinton of".

Here's the whole of the first Q&A from that interview:

Compare Mr. Manafort's 6/27/2016 appearance on Meet the Press, where none of the same extreme disfluencies are on display:

And in Katrina Pearson's 8/2/2016 interview with Megyn Kelly, she leaves out a crucial negation and calls Barack Obama "probably one of the most qualified people to ever run for office":

Update Nick Gass, "Manafort misspeaks on Ryan: 'I'm going to be supporting him as a candidate for president, too'", Politico 7/4/2016. Almost enough to make you believe Freud about speech errors as the unconscious mind taking over to express repressed fears and desires.


  1. GeorgeW said,

    August 3, 2016 @ 7:22 pm

    Probably stress (not the linguistic variety).

  2. Ben Zimmer said,

    August 4, 2016 @ 11:25 am

    Manafort's been ridiculed for a disfluency in another interview, when he was asked by CBS This Morning's Norah O'Donnell if Trump has financial relationships with any Russian oligarchs.

    Here's Stephen Colbert having fun with his response.

  3. J.W. Brewer said,

    August 4, 2016 @ 12:51 pm

    Even successful campaigns with closer-to-median-temperament candidates than Trump involve lots of stress, distraction, and sleep deprivation for the staff (as well as the candidate), so I would expect disfluencies in speech to be a reasonably common symptom of that.

  4. Graeme said,

    August 4, 2016 @ 6:46 pm

    Forget verbal stumbling. If people are 'suicidal'.

  5. Rich said,

    August 5, 2016 @ 12:29 pm

    And the Republican side of the aisle seems to be trying to make a case that Clinton said she *WILL* raise taxes on the middle class…

    Donald Trump wrongly says Hillary Clinton wants to raise taxes on the middle class

    Alan Yu, a linguistics professor at the University of Chicago who specializes in phonology, ran the audio through a computer program called Praat, which analyzes phonetics.

    By analyzing the sound waves, we can see that Clinton was saying "aren't," because she definitely pronounced the "n," though she didn't really hit the "t."

    . . . .

    Our ruling

    The Trump campaign said, "Hillary Clinton says she wants to, 'raise taxes on the middle class.' "

    According to the transcript, numerous reporters, experts and a computer program, Clinton said the exact opposite.

    We rate this statement Pants on Fire!

  6. Charles Antaki said,

    August 5, 2016 @ 2:48 pm

    Perhaps he's struggling to cope with that classic cause of disfluency, a voice coming in through an earpiece. Or from elsewhere in this or some other universe.

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