Understanding Trump's Use of Language

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Georgeanna
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Understanding Trump's Use of Language

Post by Georgeanna » October 22nd, 2018, 7:13 am

https://georgelakoff.com/2016/08/19/und ... -language/

I found this article following a discussion on 'What is fascism?' where I mentioned Trumpspeak.
I had been thinking of the way he uses simple language to engage with his right wing followers at rallies.
Also, the way his hate speech and encouragement of violence is defended by some and himself as 'just joking'. A classic defence of a bully caught.
There are numerous instances of this - his only 'being playful' act.
Acting innocent hiding fascist elements.

Here's the beginning of an intelligent, objective analysis:

'Some in the media (Washington Post, Salon, Slate, Think Progress, etc.) have called Trump’s speeches “word salad.” Some commentators have even attributed his language use to “early Alzheimer’s,” citing “erratic behavior” and “little regards for social conventions.” I don’t believe it.

I have been repeatedly asked in media interviews about such use of language by Trump. So far as I can tell, he is simply using effective discourse mechanisms to communicate what his wants to communicate to his audience. I have found that he is very careful and very strategic in his use of language. The only way I know to show this is to function as a linguist and cognitive scientist and go through details.''

Georgeanna
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Re: Understanding Trump's Use of Language

Post by Georgeanna » October 22nd, 2018, 8:17 am

So, if we accept that politics is all about selling...
from the article above:

''Always Selling

For five decades, Trump has been using all these techniques of selling and trying to make deals to his advantage. It seems to have become second nature for him to use these devices. And he uses them carefully and well. He is a talented charlatan. Keeping you off balance is part of his game. As is appealing to ordinary thought mechanisms in the people he is addressing.

It is vital that the media, and ordinary voters, learn to recognize his techniques. When the media fails to grasp what he is doing, it gives him an advantage. Every time someone in the media claims his discourse is “word salad, ” it helps Trump by hiding what he is really doing.''

-----

So...why can't the opposition use similar techniques ?
Not necessarily 'word salad' but something which ' [appeals] to ordinary thought mechanisms'.
The good and unbigoted side. Or is there such a place in our brain...

Can we even make an appeal to fairness anymore - when we are brought to a place where it's all about the strong winning.
Where any inconvenient truth is 'Fake News !'

Politics should be about more than shouting slogans but if that is what works, what would be the best one to shout from on high ? To get elected.
Repetition works - as in 'Lock her up, lock her up !'
Simple chanting.
Perhaps the opposition is too sensitive to shout 'Lock him up, lock him up !'
What are the necessary and effective techniques of language and persuasion ? To close the deal.
In sales and buying, don't we often sell it to ourselves - no need for pressure...
Even if there are aspects we might not like about e.g. a sofa or a car - we overlook and rationalise...

What previous linguistic techniques have worked for any political party ?
And would they work again...

Eduk
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Re: Understanding Trump's Use of Language

Post by Eduk » October 22nd, 2018, 8:36 am

The opposition do use similar techniques. Trump only just won.
Can we even make an appeal to fairness anymore
When you say 'anymore' you imply there was a time that you could? Certainly I have never witnessed such a time.
The problem with running a fair campaign is that other people can run an unfair one and have all the advantages of your fair campaign plus all the advantages of an unfair one. I don't think it's impossible to be fair, but I can't think of a fair candidate?
Unknown means unknown.

Georgeanna
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Re: Understanding Trump's Use of Language

Post by Georgeanna » October 22nd, 2018, 8:51 am

Eduk wrote:
October 22nd, 2018, 8:36 am
The opposition do use similar techniques. Trump only just won.
Can we even make an appeal to fairness anymore
When you say 'anymore' you imply there was a time that you could? Certainly I have never witnessed such a time.
The problem with running a fair campaign is that other people can run an unfair one and have all the advantages of your fair campaign plus all the advantages of an unfair one. I don't think it's impossible to be fair, but I can't think of a fair candidate?
You are right. The opposition do use similar techniques. So what made the difference ? Russian interference ? Unfairness ?

''These men ask for just the same thing, fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as in my power, they, and all others, shall have'.''
Abraham Lincoln

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/abra ... t_fairness

Eduk
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Re: Understanding Trump's Use of Language

Post by Eduk » October 22nd, 2018, 8:59 am

Ah to be clear you can certainly appeal to fairness. But appealing to fairness and being fair are two vastly different things.
You are right. The opposition do use similar techniques. So what made the difference ?
I suspect a huge number of factors. But if two sides employ the same techniques and one side win narrowly then I don't think there is too much to say. It was just Trumps time.

Trump is a Republican right? His winning isn't totally out of left field right?
Unknown means unknown.

Georgeanna
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Re: Understanding Trump's Use of Language

Post by Georgeanna » October 22nd, 2018, 9:13 am

I think that Obama had a lot to say about 'fairness' but I can't remember where or when...
Whether he was fair in his political dealings or actions is open to debate.
Sometimes life is a bitch; what's fair to one is unfair to another.

When you say 'totally out of left field' I don't know what you mean - is it about his win being unexpected ?
I think many had doubts that the personage of Trump had a chance. They didn't take him seriously.
I think he even surprised himself...but he got over it.

But that's only my opinion based on glimpses of American politics from the UK media. And I didn't follow it all that closely.

Eduk
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Re: Understanding Trump's Use of Language

Post by Eduk » October 22nd, 2018, 9:44 am

Yes Obama seems to have been one of the better ones. Impossible for us to know really.
I can't help but judge him slightly harshly for what followed, but he's only one guy maybe I am being unreasonable. Perhaps he made the best of a tough situation, I have no doubt being POTUS is tough :)
When you say 'totally out of left field' I don't know what you mean - is it about his win being unexpected ?
Yes. I'm just questioning how surprising his win was?

Let me try to put it another way. Let us say that Trump speaks a large number of people's language. What happened in America (perhaps helped along by Obama) to make this the case?
Unknown means unknown.

Georgeanna
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Re: Understanding Trump's Use of Language

Post by Georgeanna » October 22nd, 2018, 10:08 am

Eduk wrote:
October 22nd, 2018, 9:44 am
Yes Obama seems to have been one of the better ones. Impossible for us to know really.
I can't help but judge him slightly harshly for what followed, but he's only one guy maybe I am being unreasonable. Perhaps he made the best of a tough situation, I have no doubt being POTUS is tough :)
When you say 'totally out of left field' I don't know what you mean - is it about his win being unexpected ?
Yes. I'm just questioning how surprising his win was?

Let me try to put it another way. Let us say that Trump speaks a large number of people's language. What happened in America (perhaps helped along by Obama) to make this the case?
I've no idea. I'm busy trying to work out whether I actually posted information and examples re the linguistics of political slogans or whether they have been deleted.

Perhaps deemed 'Off Topic' by a moderator.

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Re: Understanding Trump's Use of Language

Post by Fooloso4 » October 24th, 2018, 5:17 pm

Lakoff says:
I have found that he is very careful and very strategic in his use of language.
I think that this is only part of the story. The other part is Trump’s lack of a filter between what he thinks and what he says. This is why his lawyers have prevented an interview with Mueller. He seems incapable of not lying (Lakoff has said as much in other articles). However skillful Trump may be at manipulating language and people he sometimes seems unable to control what comes out of his mouth. I do not believe that every tangent he goes off on, which is often nothing more than him bragging about himself, is a matter of very careful and very strategic use of language. He is his favorite subject. And while his continuing to brag about winning the election (while ignoring the fact that he lost the popular vote) may signal to his followers that they too are winners, like his putting his name on his buildings, it seems to be more a matter of a pathological need for affirmation and adoration than a strategic ploy.

Jklint
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Re: Understanding Trump's Use of Language

Post by Jklint » October 24th, 2018, 10:44 pm

George Lakoff wrote:
I have been repeatedly asked in media interviews about such use of language by Trump. So far as I can tell, he is simply using effective discourse mechanisms to communicate what his wants to communicate to his audience. I have found that he is very careful and very strategic in his use of language. The only way I know to show this is to function as a linguist and cognitive scientist and go through details.
I think Mr. Lakoff gives Trump too much credit for intelligence. Trump talks the way he does because that's the way he is. If there were any kind of "class" in his act it would come through occasionally.

If Trump's use of language is so strategic and potent to convince so many through obvious lies and simple-minded statements based on a seeming vocabulary of 100 words then the bigger problem is not the President but a critical part of the Population that can be so gullible in accepting the abundant slanders and falsehoods of their commander in chief.

The more intelligent have seriously questioned Trump's "effective discourse mechanisms", it's "effectiveness" depending on what segment of the population it applies to.

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LuckyR
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Re: Understanding Trump's Use of Language

Post by LuckyR » October 25th, 2018, 2:38 am

When evaluating someone's use of language, first you need to know who the intended audience is. In trump's case he has two, himself and those who make up his base. When viewed in this context, everything he says is clearly intentional and pretty effective.
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: Understanding Trump's Use of Language

Post by Fooloso4 » October 25th, 2018, 2:15 pm

Trump’s response to the sending of pipe bombs to Democrats is telling. To point to this as just another example of his hypocrisy misses the point. He gives a measured and reasoned speech about unity and civility and then goes to a rally and blames the news media followed by a tweet this morning:

At the rally he said:
As part of a larger national effect to bridge our divides and bring people together the media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories - and by the way do you see how nice I’m behaving tonight. This is like - have you ever seen this? We’re all behaving very well. And hopefully we can keep it that way right?
The tweet:
A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!
He says that the media also has to set a civil tone. As to his own responsibility and that of his followers, he says only, look at well behaved we are tonight. This is childish and laughable, but when someone wields so much power, it is also sinister and worrisome. We know all too well the normal tone of his rallies. He ends by saying, hopefully we can keep it that way. Whether he can keep it that way is completely up to him, but, as if it is out of his hands, he says hopefully and takes no responsibility for keeping it that way.

In the tweet he continues to distance not only himself but whoever sent the bombs from responsibility. It is the media, the “fake news” that has caused the anger. It is the media that must change, as if since things have gotten so bad and hateful that whoever has been sending the bombs is powerless and was pushed by forces beyond his or her control to do this. There is no need for Trump or his followers to clear up their act because whatever part they may have played is not a very big part, and, see how well behaved they were at the rally.

Underneath the tone of unity and civility is the message that he is the victim and unless the news media stops printing stories that are critical of him, he and his followers must do something because things have gotten so bad. Not only is it a matter of putting the blame elsewhere, it is a call to action. The news media, as he has repeatedly said, are the enemy of the people. If they do not follow his call to clean up their act, in the name of civility and unity, he has no choice but to do the right thing and suppress them.

At the rally he also said:
Democrats oppose any effort to secure our border
And:
Wait till you see what happens over the next few weeks. You’re going to see a very secure border. You just watch … And the military is ready. They’re all set. They’re all set. They’re all ready and there is nobody like them.
This is illegal. The military is prohibited from engaging in policing activities. It seems likely that military command would not comply, but this is part of Trump's autocratic message - suppress the press and impose your will via military means. If duly elected officials, the “opposition party” do not comply the “lock them up!”

Jklint
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Re: Understanding Trump's Use of Language

Post by Jklint » October 25th, 2018, 4:46 pm

Trump wrote:Wait till you see what happens over the next few weeks. You’re going to see a very secure border. You just watch … And the military is ready. They’re all set. They’re all set. They’re all ready and there is nobody like them.
Fooloso4 wrote:
October 25th, 2018, 2:15 pm
This is illegal. The military is prohibited from engaging in policing activities.
Trump presumably meant the Reserve Military, the National Guard which he does have the power to deploy.

Fooloso4
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Re: Understanding Trump's Use of Language

Post by Fooloso4 » October 25th, 2018, 7:04 pm

Jklint:

Trump presumably meant the Reserve Military, the National Guard which he does have the power to deploy.

As with all things Trump he had to walk back his threats because he spoke without knowledge of the law. His threats of military action which began back in April with active military was changed to National Guard after he was informed by Mattis and others that he could not do that. Just today he is now threatening to declare a national emergency which makes it permissible to call in active military (in a support capacity, but that is not the message he wants to convey).

Aside from the question of what military action he has the authority to employ, what should not be lost here is that he has turned a humanitarian crisis into a threat against the United States necessitating military action. I think what he meant when he said he was going to bring out the military was that this is a crisis and force is necessary. While it is possible that the military will only provide food, shelter, and medical care, Trump has framed it an “onslaught” and made unsubstantiated claims about criminal elements and Middle Easterners. Further, he is claiming that the Democrats are thwarting efforts to protect us, which is clearly aimed at influencing the midterm elections -if you want to protect America then you had better vote Republican.

Jklint
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Re: Understanding Trump's Use of Language

Post by Jklint » October 26th, 2018, 12:05 am

Fooloso4:

Aside from the question of what military action he has the authority to employ, what should not be lost here is that he has turned a humanitarian crisis into a threat against the United States necessitating military action. I think what he meant when he said he was going to bring out the military was that this is a crisis and force is necessary. While it is possible that the military will only provide food, shelter, and medical care, Trump has framed it an “onslaught” and made unsubstantiated claims about criminal elements and Middle Easterners. Further, he is claiming that the Democrats are thwarting efforts to protect us, which is clearly aimed at influencing the midterm elections -if you want to protect America then you had better vote Republican.



Trump is a pathological liar and a would-be dictator. The evidence for that is overt. It's a stench on the surface of nearly every statement he makes. If there were a killer asteroid having traveled for a million years coming from the far out Bad Lands of the solar system with the Earth as bullseye he'd blame the Dems, the Russians and the Chinese for having caused it. There isn't a single thing he ever took responsibility for yet ever-ready to accept credit, praising himself profusely for accomplishments he had nothing to do with.

Yet none of this is more pathetic than the hordes of gullible Americans - and here I'm being polite - who would grant him a second term in office. The midterm elections should forecast the possibility of "Trump chapter two" happening.

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