New frontiers in pseudo-Freudian slips

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Jan Brewer, the former governor of Arizona, calls in once a week to the Mac & Gaydos radio show on KTAR in Glendale, Arizona. Her call on Tuesday 8/16/2016 featured this epic sequence, explaining why she doesn't think Donald Trump needs to run ads in Arizona:

got a strong message out there
and the people want a fighter
they're tired of the lying killer uh Hillary Clinton
and Bill Clintons of the world
vetted her now for thirty years

According to a subsequent report,

When reached by phone by BuzzFeed News on Wednesday, Brewer said she just mispronounced Clinton’s name.

“I was trying to say Hillary Clinton,” Brewer said. “It was a stumble of the tongue.”

“Good grief,” she added.

Along with the other joys of this political season, perhaps we can look forward to a political battle of semi-intentional malapropisms from retired politicians?

Update — among the clever responses, Betty Cracker, "AZ Gov. Jan Brewer Gives Weapons to Terrorists in Exchange for Personal Meth Supply":

Oh hey, please disregard that title; it’s just a typo. What I meant to say is that Governor Brewer blamed a “stumble of the tongue” when she mispronounced “Hillary Clinton” as “lying killer” during a radio interview this week. Simple mistake — it could happen to anyone, amirite?




  1. Theophylact said,

    August 18, 2016 @ 10:21 am

    Well, it could have been a partial spoonerism: "lying Killary [Hlinton]", short-circuited by the impossible completion.

  2. cameron said,

    August 18, 2016 @ 11:09 am

    I could see how a spooneristic stumble might end up as "Killary Hilton".

  3. A. Mandel said,

    August 18, 2016 @ 11:39 am

    "Killary" is a popular epithet among a certain segment of the right. It may not even have been a spoonerism– just an aborted moment of speaking the way she would among friends.

    [(myl) My speculation is that her mental lexicon had significant activations for the Trumpian "Crooked Hillary" and the more general nutso-right "Killary", and she had in mind to say something like "lying Hillary" and got confused. Or, more simply, she just faked it.]

  4. Brett said,

    August 18, 2016 @ 12:05 pm

    I hear a clear "We" (presumably reduced from "We've") before "vetted."

    [(myl) I think you're exhibiting a nice case of the "morpheme restoration effect".

    Here's the waveform and spectrogram of the passage "the world … vetted her now":

    And the audio for the part up to the red arrow, and then after the red arrow:

    The audio is pretty terrible (phone call plus the radio station's AGC plus the podcast's lossy encoding), but I think that the region 50 msec or so before the red arrow is the release of the [d], as you can hear in a clip in which it's left out:

    So neither visually nor acoustically does there seem to be much support for "we" — which I also originally hallucinated, truth be told…]

  5. J.W. Brewer said,

    August 18, 2016 @ 12:17 pm

    I'm not able to immediately tell how far back the "Killary" name goes as applied to the candidate herself (can't do a useful google search with restricted date range because the metadata is so bad you get lots of "2007" hits with 2016 content), but I am intrigued to notice that it was in use in the roller-derby world (see no later than 2010, as witness this video:

  6. Chris C. said,

    August 18, 2016 @ 3:12 pm

    "perhaps we can look forward to a political battle of semi-intentional malapropisms from retired politicians?"

    Since this is absolutely standard fare in what passes for political discourse on internet discussion forums — probably, yes.

  7. Lazar said,

    August 18, 2016 @ 3:47 pm

    In my observations I've seen "Shillary" quite a bit, but not "Killary".

  8. Christel Davies said,

    August 18, 2016 @ 6:18 pm

    One just needs to Google "Clinton dead body count" to see lots of hits regarding untimely deaths of Clinton associates. So perhaps the slip up was less the "killer" part, but more refraining from throwing in a "Shillary" too, as to not get so lost in her contempt she forgets to make her point.

  9. Jerry Friedman said,

    August 18, 2016 @ 6:48 pm

    Clinton is also frequently called a hawk, as by the New York Times. That's not far from a killer, though sending troops overseas may not be the kind of killing Brewer is worried about.

  10. Killer said,

    August 18, 2016 @ 7:03 pm

    Sure reminds me of "Martin Luther Coon", by the mayor of Selma, Alabama in 1965.

  11. jaap said,

    August 19, 2016 @ 6:31 am

    It reminds me a bit of the Jeremy Hunt, Culture Secretary spoonerism.

  12. Andreas Johansson said,

    August 19, 2016 @ 10:22 am

    Cracker is being a bit disingenuous, isn't she? I very much doubt Brewer was trying to disassociate herself from the "lying" part.

    (It's a tad interesting to prefer a "fighter" to a "killer", incidentally – a fighter that doesn't kill is, one might think, either not very serious or not very effective.)

  13. Wilhelm said,

    August 19, 2016 @ 3:19 pm

    Not an expert, but I think the release of [ŋ] as in "lying", can have a little pop like a weak [k]. When an [h] follows, this may sound like [kʰ].

    Also, I think the perception of "we've" before "vetted" is not all in one's head. I hear rounding and lengthening during the /l/ of "world", which sounds like a preparation for /d/ with a /w/ coarticulation. "world we've vetted" = [wɝlʷ:dʷvɛɾɪd]

  14. Guy said,

    August 19, 2016 @ 3:54 pm


    I believe the correct spelling is "$hillary". It's certainly the more common epithet, but "Killary" is out there too.

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