Richard Chait and Madeleine Green
Presidentialese is a curious dialect of higher education-speak. Over the past decade, we have had the pleasure of working with hundreds of college presidents, and have become fairly fluent. It is worth noting that no one is born with the ability to speak presidentialese; there are no "native speakers." But after a time in office, presidents actually may think in presidentialese, rarely translating into plain English.
We present below a basic primer, first indicating the phrase in presidentialese, and then providing a translation. The primer starts with the first words of presidentialese uttered on administrators' way up and continues through the more sophisticated language spoken by presidents on their way down.
I'm very happy in my job, but I might consider a presidency if the right
one came along.
I'd kill for one.
I'm putting out a few feelers just to see what's there.
I've put the word out to five hundred of my closest friends.
I think I'll allow my name to go forward.
I spent four days sprucing up my resume.
They have some problems, but it's an interesting situation.
It's not Harvard, but I'd still kill for it.
I'm on the short list.
I was asked for a list of references.
I'll go for the interview, look, and listen; what do I have to lose?
I'm nervous; I hope I don't put my foot in my mouth.