Bush Makes the Dictionary
Sep 9, 8:57 am ET
By Paul Majendie
LONDON (Reuters) - George W. Bush is mocked for strangling grammar. But he
can hold his head up high in the new Oxford Dictionary of Quotations
published on Thursday.
The U.S. President makes a respectable first appearance in one of the
world's most famous reference books with his notorious "Axis of Evil" speech
about Iran, Iraq and North Korea. Bush, long renowned for his malapropisms,
has in the past offered such gems as misunderestimate, embetter and
But Oxford dictionary editor Elizabeth Knowles works on very different
criteria for new entrants in the revered tome.
"You look at the quotation, not at their linguistic dexterity," she told
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Bush's closest ally in the war on Iraq,
is given prominence for waxing lyrical in appropriately Shakespearean tones
in the lead-up to the conflict: "This is not the time to falter."
Intriguingly the latest edition of the famous sayings book first published
in 1941 highlights how history has a way of repeating itself when it comes
to the memorable soundbite.
Bill Clinton, watching the saga of the Florida chaos unfolding in the 2000
U.S. Presidential election, said: "The American people have spoken -- but
it's going to take a little time to determine what they said."
That echoed the complaint by British Conservative statesman Lord Salisbury
in 1877: "One of the nuisances of the ballot is that when the oracle has
spoken, you never know what it means."
"We are constantly trying to pick up material that has become newly
resonant," Knowles said, citing a John Quincy Adams quote that struck a
chord after the September 11 attacks on the United States:
"Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be
unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she
(America) goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy."
On a lighter note, draconian British quiz mistress Anne Robinson wins quote
immortality for the way she curtly dismisses failed candidates in her show:
"You are the weakest link ... Goodbye."