Feb 2017Opinion PiecesPast Articles

The ‘Bigly’ phenomenon of Trumpian Discourse

The ‘Bigly’ phenomenon of Trumpian Discourse





By Naila Sahar


  “We’re gonna speedup the process bigly. That’s what happens bigly.”  – Donald Trump, Oct 19th 2016

These are just a few examples of Trumpisms, a term usually used for Trump’s fragmented linguistic composition. Critics in media, like Washington post, Salon, Think Progress, and others have called Trump’s speeches “word salad”, and his language use is dubbed as “early Alzheimer’s”, exposing his erratic behavior and showing little regard for social conventions. His speeches are an incoherent and inconsistent mess of repetitive phrases, in which he self-interrupts the sentence structures and puts his audience in a perpetual dilemma of making sense out his “misapplication” of syntax right after his speeches. Human brains and tape-recorders are caught in an aggressive struggle to interpret, decipher and decode his erratic adventure in sentence construction. As Dan Libit, CNBC’s significant analyst, puts it: “Trump is, simply put, a transcriptionist’s worst nightmare: severely unintelligible, and yet, incredibly important to understand.”

  “And I’ll win the Trump University case. I could see that case. I could have settled it. I just choose not to. In fact, when I ran they said: ‘Why don’t you settle that case?’  I don’t want to settle up that case. Now I could’ve settled that case. I could settle that case. I can settle that case. I don’t want to.” – Donald Trump, May 31st 2016

Some of the salient features of Trumpist discourse are repetition, word coinage and bullshitting. Indeed, many critics and journalists, such as CNN’s flagship foreign affairs host Fareed Zakaria, have regarded Trump an exceptional ‘bullshit artist’ who has an unmatchable ability to concoct the hyperbole and falsehoods. His sweeping generalizations endorsing the stereotypes about Muslims and Mexicans are an outrage for many. When Trump made his comment about the silent mother of Muslim American soldier, who was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq, he implied that she was forbidden to speak at the Democratic National Convention. By saying this, Trump insinuated that Muslim women are oppressed and subjugated by the Muslim patriarchy, and when he was criticized severely for these comments, he and his advisors repeatedly tried to change the subject to Islamic terrorism, but to no avail.

     “I get a call from my sister, who’s a fantastic person, and then I get a call from my brother, who’s a fantastic person.”  – Donald Trump, February 26th, 2016

     “Judge has been very unfair, has not done a good job, he’s been a very bad judge, he’s been very unfair. I’ve a judge who’s very very unfair, he knows he’s unfair.” – Donald Trump, May 31st 2016

Trump’s misogyny is par excellence! His favorite target has been an American journalist on the Fox News Channel and political commentator, Megyn Kelly; when she kept pressing Trump about his hateful rhetoric towards women during an interview with him, he later came out to say on to CNN that “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” As the outrage for this comment built, Trump clarified that he had not completed his thought and that he was, in fact, referring to Kelly’s nose and not to her menstrual cycle. During his final presidential debate, Trump interrupted Clinton in her speech to declare she was a “nasty woman.” Clinton then retorted, “Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger. He goes after their dignity, their self-worth, and I don’t think there is a woman anywhere who doesn’t know what that feels like.” Trump’s interjection then became a meme, women all over responded to this comment by turning it into a feminist slogan, and “Nasty Woman” merchandise became Hillary Clinton’s badge of honor.

“I know a lot about Texas, I’ve many friends in Texas, many many friends. I’d love to get Texas because of my relationship to Texas, so many friends.” – Donald Trump, February 26th, 2016.

Harry Frankfurt, who is an eminent ethics philosopher and former professor at Princeton, wrote a brilliant essay in 1986 called “On Bullshit.” In this essay, he writes that someone who is engaging in bullshitting is neither on the side of truth, nor on the side of false, but always had an interest with getting away with what they are saying and in creating “spacious opportunities for improvisation, color and imaginative play.” Seen in the light of this definition, there’s not a single doubt that Mr. Trump’s whole career in politics is based on being a conniving ‘bullshit artist’. He takes help of “deceptive misrepresentation,” a term used by Frankfurt, to justify his propaganda regarding various issues, be it Putin, or Muslims, or Mexicans, in his attempt to misrepresent and distort facts. Trump has mispronounced countries’ names (Tanzania!), coined new words (bigly!) and tried to speak Hindi (ab ki bar Trump Sarkar!) so to imply he adores Hindus. According to American cognitive linguist, George Lakoff, Trump’s linguistic distortions are actually his attempt at strategic use of language through which he attempts to penetrate certain ideas amongst his supporters, however for the mentally sane world, Trump’s Freudian slips are a series of gallows humor that leave his audience gaping in horror at the Kobayashi Maru (no-win) scenario that Trump has successfully created.


1 comment

  1. Trump 20 December, 2016 at 03:35 Reply

    The repetitive rhetoric is a persuasive technique to get people to accept lies. He can’t be that dumb… can’t be. Couldn’t be. Wouldn’t be. Probably is not… not likely… probably is smart… maybe he is… yup he is. Does it work?

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