The articles linked below explore how US president-elect Donald J. Trump has used language mechanisms to obtain certain effects … like the White House.
1. “Winning words: the language that got Donald Trump elected” (11 Nov. 2016)
Regular Mind your language contributor at The Guardian Gary Nunn examines Trump’s use of rhetorical devices such as braggadocio, binaries, hyperbole, euphemism, repetition, and others. Nunn argues that these allowed Trump “to tap into the raw emotions of potential voters” – and probably helped secure him the presidency.
2. “Trump’s rhetoric: a triumph of inarticulacy” (13 Jan. 2017)
Sam Leith, author of You Talkin’ To Me?: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama, analyses Trump’s “speeches” to discover how his language works. Among his findings are that Trump has a small working vocabulary, a catastrophic handle on syntax, spelling and punctuation, and makes much rhetorical use of “charged but empty” adjectives and adverbs. He also flat-out contradicts himself without problem. While such phenomena are usually frowned upon in US political oratory, Leith concludes that for Trump they are a selling point.
3. “A Taxonomy of Trump Tweets” (13 Jan. 2017)
A podcast from www.wnyc.org featuring cognitive linguist George Lakoff.
Lakoff considers it important for people to understand how Trump uses language on Twitter “if we’re to responsibly report on his tweets, not just magnify their misinformation.” To this end, Lakoff outlines a number of categories for thinking about Trump’s tweets (though he’s not saying that The Donald is aware of these as stratagems).
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