Ever since Donald Trump stormed onto the campaign trail, he’s made waves with his unique approach to the English language. Whether he’s inventing words or relying on his favorite cluster of insults (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, consider yourself a stupid dummy, you lightweight loser clown), Trump has proven himself capable of making a lot of noises from his mouth. About forty percent of those noises even form words, and roughly half of those words miraculously congeal into something approaching a thought.
It is undoubtedly impressive how much Donald Trump has accomplished with a third-grade vocabulary.
However, Trump’s bewildering linguistic accomplishments aren’t the focus of this piece (because it’s already been done splendidly by fellow SND writer Warren Michaels); instead, let’s focus on the unique means by which Trump reaches the masses. For those people, all of Trump’s word globs are strung together in meaningful ways. For proof of that, just ask a Trump fan, one of the thousands of people who head to stadiums to hear the president speak on one of his self-congratulatory victory laps.
As a public speaker, Trump has managed to harness a legion of extremely devoted voters. There’s something there, if only because his speeches provide a glimpse inside the mind of America’s yugest mouthpiece.
Smart Guy Says Donald Trump’s Speech Is Truly ‘Original,’ So There!
John McWhorter says linguistically-speaking, Donald Trump “is unadorned.” The Stanford-trained linguist told MSNBC’s Brian Williams that the President speaks like the ancient people who were first giving spoken communication a shot. Another way to say that is: Donald Trump is an “original” in that his speech patterns mimic the original primates to sound out words.
He’s basically a smart gorilla, folks.
More troubling, McWhorter explains that Donald Trump’s speeches reveal that the world’s most powerful man missed one of the primary aspects of education, “to refine our natural inborn proclivities.” In short, just as Obama’s speeches offered insight into his cultural upbringing, Trump’s addresses reveal a big dumb dummy who couldn’t learn to speak properly even while being, “a really good student at the best school in the country.”
The First Guy to Learn Stuff
Painting the President as willfully ignorant seems unfair, though, especially when an alternative theory appears closer to the truth. Donald Trump tries to learn things, but his pea-sized brain can only keep thoughts around for so long before they’re squashed into oblivion by Steve Doocy’s morning thoughts.
Limited mental capacity means that Trump has to keep learning things fresh every few months, like an infant, or — again — a smart gorilla. Of course, being the egomaniac that he is, the president believes that even with his learning difficulties, he’s still got to be smarter than most people. Trump readily reveals that clashing duality with a variation on one key phrase: “A lot of people don’t know.”
It’s the so-called “tag” that Donald Trump uses when he’s about to brag about knowing a very common fact he just learned ten seconds earlier. Like the time he told a crowd, “People don’t realize, if you go back to the Civil War the Republicans really did the thing. Lincoln was a Republican.”
Trump also enjoys using “A lot of people don’t know,” when he’s about to tell people a lie, too. For example, there was the time that he said, “You know the murder rate in the United States, I don’t know if you know this because the press never talks about it, is the highest it’s been, think of this, in 45 years. Nobody knows that. The murder rate, highest it’s been in 45 years.”
As it happens, a lot of people didn’t know that, because it wasn’t true.
A Living Master of Faulknerian Verse
More than his archaic speech patterns and his second job as the world’s worst Mr. Peabody, Donald Trump’s power comes from his confidence on stage. The man’s ability to riff eclipses all other modern politicians. Take, for instance, this 285-word sentence uttered by Trump in July 2015:
“Look, having nuclear — my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John Trump at MIT; good genes, very good genes, okay, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart — you know, if you’re a conservative Republican, if I were a liberal, if, like, okay, if I ran as a liberal Democrat, they would say I’m one of the smartest people anywhere in the world — it’s true! — but when you’re a conservative Republican they try — oh, do they do a number — that’s why I always start off: Went to Wharton, was a good student, went there, went there, did this, built a fortune — you know I have to give my like credentials all the time, because we’re a little disadvantaged — but you look at the nuclear deal, the thing that really bothers me — it would have been so easy, and it’s not as important as these lives are (nuclear is powerful; my uncle explained that to me many, many years ago, the power and that was 35 years ago; he would explain the power of what’s going to happen and he was right — who would have thought?), but when you look at what’s going on with the four prisoners — now it used to be three, now it’s four — but when it was three and even now, I would have said it’s all in the messenger; fellas, and it is fellas because, you know, they don’t, they haven’t figured that the women are smarter right now than the men, so, you know, it’s gonna take them about another 150 years — but the Persians are great negotiators, the Iranians are great negotiators, so, and they, they just killed, they just killed us.”
Rambling nonsense, right?
Not when you hear it out loud, not when you’re a dewy-eyed listener basking in the comfort of herd mentality. Then, the above passage evokes fond memories of the past, plays to fears of Iranian cunning, and reassures people that the mud slung at Trump and the Republicans are part of a massive liberal conspiracy to take down the good guys.
It doesn’t matter that the sentence made no grammatical sense. Out loud, it sounded like political gold.