Special Sub-Topic: Watch Your Language!
|By not watching his language more carefully, which British Prime Minister gave the term "Entente Cordiale" a new meaning when, at a press conference with the then French Prime Minister, he declared that he had a "great desire for Lionel Jospin in many different positions"?|
Tony Blair. J'ai toujours envie de Lionel Jospin de toutes le facons". Speaking French at a joint press conference with Lionel Jospin in July 1998, Tony Blair thought that he was stating "I have great respect for Lionel Jospin despite our differing views." However, his less than careful use of the French language caused much hilarity and gave Anglo French relations a new dimension.
Referring to the incident in his speech to the Labour Party at the Blackpool conference in 1998, Blair said that "You have to be very careful. I do not know whether you remember seeing me make the speech to the French National Assembly in French. It went well and I got a bit cocky and the next time I was with the French Prime Minister, I agreed to do the press conference in French. Half way through the conference I got my French muddled up and instead of saying: 'I admire Lionel Jospin in many different ways. I announced to the people of France: 'I desire Lionel Jospin in many different positions.' Still, the French are quite relaxed about that sort of thing. "
A similar misuse of language caused US president Jimmy Carter embarrassment during a visit to Poland in December 1977 when, during a speech, he said that "I want to know the Polish people." However, the word "know" was mistranslated and he actually ended up telling his audience that "I want to have carnal knowledge of the Polish people."
|"It is a great honour to travel to Spain and visit the King and also Prime Minister Ansar. But I have to practice the very pretty language, and unless I practice I am going to destroy this language."
He didn't quite destroy the language, but which US president inadvertently called the Spanish Prime Minister a goose by mispronouncing his surname during this speech?
George W Bush. Addressing Spanish television during a visit in June 2001, President Bush mispronounced the name of then Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar calling him Prime Minister Ansar. "Ansar" is the Spanish word for goose. Spanish was the source of another Bush gaffe when, at the G-8 Summit in Rusutu, Japan in July 2008, the president was heard calling across the room "Amigo! Amigo!" to Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi.
So frequently did he not watch his language, that a new word "Bushisms" came into popular use to describe his idiosyncratic use of language.
|By failing to guard his language, which British businessman caused the value of his company to plummet by around £500 million when he stated, in a 1991 speech, that some of his company's products were, amongst other things, "cheaper than a prawn sandwich from Marks and Spencer"? |
Gerald Ratner. Known as the "Sultan of Bling ", Gerald Ratner was chief executive of the jewellery company, Ratners Group, which he had built into one of the largest jewellers in the world by selling items at heavily discounted prices. On April 23 1991 he gave a speech to the Institute of Directors at the Royal Albert Hall in London during which he stated "We do cut glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for £4.95. People say "how can you sell this for such a low price?" I say, because it's total crap." He went on to compound this gaffe by revealing that "we even sell a pair of gold earrings for under £1 which is cheaper than a prawn sandwich from Marks and Spencer. But I have to say that the sandwich will probably last longer."
Following the speech, the value of the company plummeted by around £500 million and came very close to collapse. Ratner resigned from the company the next year. In an interview with the "Guardian" newspaper in 2009 Mr Ratner was asked if he had regrets to which he replied, bluntly as ever, "People always say do you regret saying it, and I say that is the most stupid question anybody's ever asked, of course I regret it, I lost everything." Even today, gaffes surrounding the value of corporate branding and images are known as "Doing a Ratner".
|Which American golfer landed himself in hot water when he made off-hand remarks to the waiting media at the 1997 Masters tournament in which he called Tigers Woods "that little boy" and asked him not to serve fried chicken "or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve" at the following year's Champions Dinner?|
Fuzzy Zoeller. Known for his joking manner, Frank Urban "Fuzzy Zoeller" Jr's celebrated sense of humour backfired when he found himself accused of racism and "inappropriate and offensive remarks" at the 1997 Masters golf tournament. He was asked by waiting media for his reaction to the performance of Tiger Woods. Zoeller responded that "He's doing quite well, pretty impressive. That little boy is driving well and he's putting well. He's doing everything it takes to win. So, you know what you guys do when he gets in here? You pat him on the back and say congratulations and enjoy it and tell him not to serve fried chicken next year. Got it." Zoeller then smiled, snapped his fingers, and walked away before turning and adding, "or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve." Fried chicken and collard greens are a typical African-American dish. Uproar followed with long time sponsors K-Mart and Dunlop both withdrawing their support for Zoeller.
Zoeller issued a public apology in which he stated "that anyone who knows me knows that I am a jokester It's too bad that something I said in jest was turned into something it's not. But I didn't mean anything by it and I'm sorry if I offend anybody. If Tiger is offended by it, I apologize to him, too. I have nothing but the utmost respect for Tiger as a person and an athlete." When they met for the first time after the incident Zoeller offered a personal apology to Tiger which Tiger accepted and stated that "hopefully all that is over".
|Which Australian actor, who is Sydney born and bred, was left looking a little foolish in his own country when his tweet that he was "having lunch on the harbor across from the Opera Center. Loving life" appeared on his Twitter account?|
Hugh Jackman. Hugh Jackman, who was born and raised in Sydney, was in Australia in April 2009 as part of a publicity tour to promote the movie "X-Men Origins: Wolverine", when the above tweet appeared on his Twitter account. More than a little annoyed at how the actor appeared to have forgotten his roots and got the name of the world famous Sydney Opera House wrong and who was using American spelling to boot, the Sydney Morning Herald took up the matter. A call to Jackman's publicist followed, and she blamed the gaffe on spell check problems on Jackman's Blackberry and confirmed that he had indeed written the message.
However, a few hours later Jackman came clean, apologised and admitted that he had dictated the message to a member of staff in the States and that "when that got translated by someone American in my office, it came out all wrong. I do know that the Opera House is called the Opera House." The old adage of English being a common language separating two nations once again rears its head.
Twitter also led to a gaffe by British Prime Minister David Cameron when he appeared live on a radio show in July 2009 and explained graphically the reason why he did not use the social networking site. Suffice it to say that his description was definitely "Not for Kids!"
|Which US Secretary of State was left a little red-faced when, at a press conference, her Russian counterpart responded to her statement that "we worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?" by replying "You got it wrong"?|
Hillary Clinton. At the first meeting between US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and her Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in Geneva in March 2009, Mrs Clinton presented Mr Lavrov with a gift, a mock reset button, which was meant to symbolize the resetting of the relationship between the two nations. Unfortunately, instead of being inscribed with the word "perezagruzka" which is Russian for reset, the word "peregruzka" which means overload or overcharge had been used. Mr Lavrov explained the difference and, after some laughter, Mrs Clinton quickly recovered her poise and stated that "we won't let you do that to us!" The Russian media had a field day including the newspaper "Kommersant" which led with the headline "Sergei Lavrov and Hillary Clinton push the wrong button."
She can take some comfort from the fact that she is not alone in being embarrassed by a mix up in words. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was literally the butt of many jokes after a press release sent out by his office regarding his August 2009 Arctic visit referred to the capital of Nunavut as Iqualuit instead of its correct name of Iqaluit. Unfortunately for Mr Harper, while Iqaluit means "place of many fishes" in the Inuit language, Iqualiut has the less pleasant meaning of "people with unwiped bottoms".
|Which international company's chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg, discovered the perils of not speaking in your native language when, in a press conference, he stated that "we care about the small people" and landed himself in the centre of a public relations nightmare?|
BP. On 20 April 2010, BP's oil drilling rig, the Deepwater Horizon, exploded in the Gulf of Mexico killing eleven people. This explosion resulted in an oil spill which flowed for three months. With feelings on the matter running high, BP's Swedish chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg, met President Obama on June 16 2010 to discuss the disaster. At a press conference following the meeting, Mr Svanberg caused outrage among Gulf Coast residents, who felt that they were being patronized, when he said "and we care about the small people. I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy or don't care. But that is not the case in BP. We care about small people."
A BP spokesperson quickly issued a statement saying that Mr Svanberg had meant that he cared about local people and businesses and that the error was due to a "slip in translation". The following day Mr Svanberg himself issued an apology saying that he had spoken "clumsily" and for that, he was very sorry. It is generally accepted that Mr Svanberg mistranslated the common Swedish phrase "da lilla manniskan" which translates directly as "the little human" meaning the regular or common folk and which has no offensive connotation in his home country. Another suggestion was that Mr Svanberg "misremembered" the common American phrase "the little guy".
|At an event as important as the soccer World Cup it was inevitable that tensions were going to run high in certain camps and that that these would lead to the just as inevitable running off at the mouth. Which high profile player earned the wrath of his country's fans and was forced into an abject apology after he was heard saying "Nice to see your own fans booing you! That's what loyal support is!" at the end of a match at the 2010 World Cup?|
Wayne Rooney. On 18 June 2010, England played underdogs Algeria in a group game which ended in a 0-0 draw, a very disappointing result for England and their fans left the players in no doubt as to their unhappiness with the team's performance. As he walked off the field, Wayne Rooney directed the above comments to the following television cameras. These remarks sparked furious outrage amongst fans and forced Rooney to issue a groveling apology the following morning where he blamed the heat of the moment and frustration for his words.
A quick aside. During the 2010 World Cup, FIFA organizing officials were left red-faced at their failure to watch the language when, at the press conference prior to the England-Slovenia match, they announced that they were providing a simultaneous translation from Slovenian to English. However, there was a small technical hiccup when it was found that the translator they had arranged was, in fact, Slovakian. An unamused Slovenian team pointed out that while Slovakians spoke Slovak, Slovenians spoke Slovene. It didn't help matters that Slovakia was also participating in the tournament.
|Which famous actress, best known for her hairstyle, probably wished that she had stuck to the script when she caused outrage with her off-the-cuff remark on live television that "Yes, I play dress up? I do it for a living like a retard"?|
Jennifer Aniston. Jennifer Aniston, who is best know for her role as Rachel in the television series "Friends" and for spawning a hairstyle called "The Rachel" which was copied by millions of women, appeared in a live episode of "Live with Regis and Kelly" in August 2010. She was discussing a photo shoot for "Harper's Bazaar" magazine where she had dressed up as Barbra Streisand when she made the remark. It provoked anger and condemnation amongst groups dealing with people with special needs and there were loud calls for a public apology.
She is not the first celebrity to land in hot water by using the word as previously Howard Stern, Lindsay Lohan and Rush Limbaugh have all drawn criticism for using what is seen as a derogatory term.
|"Still throwing spears at each other, are you?" and "You have mosquitoes, I have the press" are examples of his "gift of the gaffe". Which member of the British royal family has been nicknamed the "Duke of Hazard" for his repeated less than tactful comments?|
Duke of Edinburgh. Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, is the husband and consort of Queen Elizabeth II. He has gained a reputation over the years for his less than tactful comments and questions while carrying out public duties. As early as 1963, when representing the Queen at the independence celebrations of Kenya, he turned to Jomo Kenyatta, the new leader of Kenya, and asked him "Do you still want to go through with this?" Luckily Mr Kenyatta saw the funny side of the story.
As well as above two comments, the first of which was made to an Aborigine during a visit to Australia in 2002 and the second of which was made to the matron of a hospital during a Caribbean visit in 1966, the Duke of Edinburgh has given the world such classics as "You look like you are ready for bed" when greeting the President of Nigeria who was dressed in traditional robes at a state dinner and "You managed not to get eaten then" to a British student in Papua New Guinea during a visit in 1985.
His sayings have been celebrated in a book called "The Duke of Hazard: The wit and wisdom of Prince Philip" by Phil Dampier and Ashley Walton.
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