Mobilize trunalimunumaprzure

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Tweet by Eddie Zipperer:

From a colleague:

I wonder if Joe is speaking Chinese in this video.

If that is not the case, please help me to identify the language.

It's not any kind of Chinese that I know.


Selected readings


  1. Ed M said,

    October 31, 2020 @ 10:07 pm

    "I'll lead an effective strategy to mobilize true international [something] pressure."

  2. John Swindle said,

    October 31, 2020 @ 11:25 pm

    Multiple web sources suggest he was meant to say "true international pressure." I hear "true internashnavigible pressure."

  3. John Shutt said,

    October 31, 2020 @ 11:26 pm

    "I'll lead an effective strategy to mobilize two hundred an acts of a depressor."

    Thought for a while it ended with "under pressure". Or possibly "oppression".

  4. Jim McGinness said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 1:23 am

    My ears interpolate some version of "true international economic pressure". Don't hear anything that ends with "oppression". Maybe I'm being too generous, but mobilizing international economic pressure on bad actors would likely be considered a good thing.

  5. Gregoire said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 3:01 am

    It's good to know that, no matter the result of the election, we have years of embarrassing gaffes from the POTUS to come.

  6. GH said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 3:18 am

    "True in-international of the-the pressure"?

    It seems relevant to point out the often-reported fact that Biden has struggled with a stutter his whole life.

  7. Philip Taylor said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 3:51 am

    "I'll lead an effective strategy to mobilise … true and international ??? under pressure".

  8. Cervantes said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 7:16 am

    Give me a break. We don't have the context, but he apparently said "true international pressure." Everybody's speech is sometimes disfluent. I've listened to thousands of hours of audio recordings of medical and counseling encounters, and I can tell you that people stumble over words or fumble pronunciation all the time. Everybody does it. If you want to hear some disfluent speech, listen to any randomly selected 30 seconds of Mr. Biden's opponent in the election. This is not worthy of our attention of your posting it.

  9. Lukas said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 7:52 am

    Dunno if this is common knowledge, but Biden stutters. He's pretty good at working around it, but sometimes it crops up. This seems to be one of these cases. It's not really a gaffe, it's just a slight speech impediment that he usually manages to contain pretty well. My guess is he said "strategy to mobilize true international pressure" or something like that, and stumbled over some of the words.

    Not sure how helpful it is to pretend that he's speaking Chinese. As somebody who had to deal with stuttering as a child, I still sometimes have trouble getting out the odd word, and find such comments rather mean-spirited and unnecessary. I had to deal with enough of that as a kid, perhaps we should aim to do better as adults.

  10. Cervantes said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 8:13 am

    I'm going to post this again, like it or not. What Lukas said. This post is offensive and you should take it down.

  11. Victor Mair said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 8:18 am

    I think it's instructive for us to know what Lukas said, and I'm grateful to him for having said it.

  12. Dr. Emilio Lizardo said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 8:19 am

    Cervantes said: "This is not worthy of our attention of your posting it."

    You're obviously new to this website.
    Victor's colleague, Mark Liberman, has been making sarcastic "gotcha" posts about the Trump administration and others he disagrees with politically since at least late 2016.

  13. Cervantes said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 8:40 am

    The point is this is mocking a man with a speech impediment for some garbled pronunciation. That's just like mocking any other disability. It's offensive.

    It's completely different from pointing out lies, nonsense and absurdities.

  14. KU said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 8:44 am

    I’m glad that Professor Mair has opened the door on this topic. If you want to find someone slurring words in both English and Chinese, I find this clip to be very instructive:


  15. Victor Mair said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 8:46 am

    What Lukas sensitively and sympathetically said.

  16. Victor Mair said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 8:56 am


    Thank you, KU.

  17. Bloix said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 9:44 am

    As noted, Biden has a speech impediment. From observation, it appears to me that he prevents blocks by liquifying plosive consonants when he anticipates trouble. This strategy leads to an unusually soft sound, with fewer than normal true stops.

    Typically he is able to maintain a sufficiently interrupted airflow so that the stops can be heard, but on rare occasions, it appears, he is unable to modulate his airflow and loses the ability to produce plosives altogether.

    What seems to have happened in this clip is that Biden momentarily lost the ability to utter the "t" sound required by "international" and instead produced a brief flow of poorly articulated vowel and unstopped consonant sounds. An analogy would be a runner who trips and stumbles for a few steps before regaining balance.

    Some of you will remember the 13-year old Brayden Huntington, a stutterer who was tutored by Biden in strategies to overcome his impediment. If you listen to him in this spot, you'll note how similar he sounds to Biden – how there's a liquid aspect to their speech, which I conclude is the result of the method they both use to overcome blocks.

  18. Victor Mair said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 9:46 am


    Thank you for your brilliant comment.

  19. Claudia Rosett said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 10:53 am

    Thank you, Victor, for posting this, and for your many discussions over the years of garble and odd formulations of language by public figures. Your Language Log is a valuable resource, rich in insights, and widely appreciated. Whether or not Biden has a speech impediment, he is running for president of the United States, and if this is the kind of thing we might be hearing from the Oval Office, it is worth knowing about. Voters can make up their own minds whether it matters, but in a free country, surely we should be free to report it, and talk about what it might mean, or portend.

  20. Haamu said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 2:07 pm

    Any problem with this post is redeemed by the comments. Prof. Mair, I hope you’ll pass them along to your colleague.

  21. Michael Leddy said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 2:07 pm

    I saw this post last night, thought to myself "He's pretty obviously saying 'true international pressure,'" and then thought that as I don't know Chinese, I must be missing some larger, real point. I guess now that I wasn't. Biden's stutter has been mentioned often in the news — the ridicule he faced as a boy, his use of a mirror, the help he gives to young people. It's hardly news that he sometimes struggles with words, and there's nothing truly funny about it.

    The Atlantic had an excellent article about Biden and stuttering not long ago:

  22. Cervantes said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 2:29 pm

    The Biden campaign had Brayden Harrington, the boy who bonded with Joe over stuttering, record a closing campaign ad and now I am crying

  23. Dr. Emilio Lizardo said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 6:15 pm

    Biden's a stutterer, so according to his apologists his gaffes are no longer fair game. Funny that his stuttering hasn't been an apologia magnet during the previous 47 years of Uncle Joe's political journey.

    Meanwhile, every single one of Trump's misstatements are fair game:

    Yup. No bias here.

  24. Lukas said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 2:59 am

    Just for the record, making fun of Trump stumbling over his words is also mean-spirited and not helpful. There is some argument to be made that a politician's speech pattern is relevant if it is an indication of some kind of mental decline, or a lack of knowledge on a certain topic, and if somebody were to make a comprehensive argument to that point about either candidate, that would be useful information. But just pointing out how Biden or Trump sometimes mispronounce words is not in itself useful, and merely contributes to the decline in political discourse, where the theatrics of politics are valued above the actual semantics.

    I should also add that there's nothing wrong with talking about Biden's stutter. As the example of Harrington shows, when done well, talking about these things can be immensely helpful.

    "Funny that his stuttering hasn't been an apologia magnet during the previous 47 years"

    I don't think that's funny, I think it's an indication that the things we did 47 years ago are no longer okay, because we have, in some ways, become a better society that treats disabilities with more kindness and empathy.

  25. ajay said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 11:07 am

    Biden's a stutterer, so according to his apologists his gaffes are no longer fair game.

    This is not a "gaffe". A gaffe is a socially unfortunate remark made without malice but also without proper thought. If you meet Nelson Mandela shortly after his election as president and say "it must be a lot of work being president – don't you wish you could just go and live on a small desert island somewhere?" then you have committed a gaffe. If you invite Nelson Mandela to speak and introduce him as "Lionel Mandrake" then you have made a mistake, but not a gaffe.

    Trump's "misstatements" are generally neither gaffes nor mistakes; they are outright lies, told either knowing them to be false or with reckless disregard for the truth. Accordingly, they get a lot more attention and criticism.

  26. Ed M said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 10:05 pm

    The Atlantic 11/2/2020:

    >Yesterday in Michigan, Trump turned to the screen behind him to watch a clip of former Vice President Joe Biden stumbling while trying to say, “I’ll lead an effective strategy to mobilize true international pressure.” Biden stuttered between the words true and international then rushed toward the end of the sentence, yielding muddled speech. The crowd roared. Trump’s smile turned to laughter.

  27. Kaleberg said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 10:27 pm

    I thought he was referring to a covid drug or vaccine by its generic name. "Trunalimunumaprzure" sure sounds like something those two ladies in Chicago in charge of making up drug names would make up. Granted, I sort of expected a "vir" or "ab" at the end, but only a pharmaceutical chemist would be expected to pronounce the typical mouthful correctly.

  28. Dr. Emilio Lizardo said,

    November 3, 2020 @ 10:15 am

    An alternative analysis:

    Biden Polling Well Among Pentecostals After He Speaks In Tongues

    Finally, regardless of your political predilections, DON'T NEGLECT TO VOTE!!!

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