As soon as Donald Trump announced his presidential candidacy, people noted a few of his linguistic quirks, such as the extended, supervowel pronunciation of huge and the references to himself in the third person. But beyond those, the version of English he speaks amounts to its own patois, with a special vocabulary and syntax and psychological substrate. A year ago Alec Baldwin and I decided to write a parody memoir, You Can’t Spell America Without Me: The Really Tremendous Inside Story of My Fantastic First Year as President, entirely in that dialect. To prepare, I spent weeks studying transcripts of his interviews and press conferences and depositions, as well as thousands of his tweets, to assemble a lexicon I could consult as we wrote. This is an abridged version of that Trump style guide.
amazing / beautiful / best / big league / brilliant / elegant / fabulous / fantastic / fine / good / great / happy / honest / incredible / nice / outstanding / phenomenal / powerful / sophisticated / special / strong / successful / top / tremendous / unbelievable
boring / complete and total / crooked / disgusting / dishonest / dopey / dumb / goofy / horrible / interesting* / not good / obsolete / out of control / overrated / pathetic / ridiculous / rude / sad / scary / stupid / terrible / unfair / weak / worst
*as a synonym for suspicious
big / huge / major / many / massive / numerous / staggering / substantial / tough / vast
Usage note: These may be spoken once, twice (“major, major”), or three times (“many, many, many”).
absolutely / badly / basically / certainly / extremely / frankly / greatly / highly / incredibly / totally / truly / unbelievably / very / viciously / way
candy* / chaos / choker / clown / disaster / dope / dummy / fool / hatred / idiocy / incompetence / joke / lightweight / loser / lowlife / moron / phonies / problem / terror / weakness
*as a synonym for cheap or widely distributed commodities, such as illegal drugs and leaked intelligence
Nonstandard Inclusion of the Definite Article
• the African Americans
• the blacks
• the cyber
• the Latinos
• the women
VAGUE SOURCE ATTRIBUTION
- A lot of people are saying …
- People think it’s going to happen.
- Everybody’s talking about it.
- They are saying …
- Everyone is now saying …
- That’s just what I had heard.
- I’ve heard that …
- What I’ve heard …
- I’ve been hearing …
- A lot of people tell me …
- “I’ve seen this, and I’ve sort of witnessed it—in fact, in two cases I have actually witnessed it.”
- believe me
- by the way
- doesn’t have a clue
- getting away with murder
- hit a home run
- hit me harder
- I have many, many friends
- I must tell you
- I won
- I’m a believer in
- I’m doing very well with
- in all fairness
- in the whole world
- laughing at us
- likes of which
- never seen before, ever
- not gonna happen
- … okay?
- … right?
- that I can tell you
- they don’t respect us
- to be perfectly honest
- very much involved
Quick Repetition of Words and Phrases
- “He’s a low-energy person, let’s face it. We don’t need low energy. We need lots of energy.”
- “I mean, we defend everybody. We defend everybody. No matter who it is, we defend everybody. We’re defending the world.”
- “The children are aspiring to grow up to be terrorists. They are taught to grow up to be terrorists … They have to stop the teaching of children to aspire to grow up as terrorists.”
- “You cannot just have a standard. You cannot just say that we have a blanket standard all over the world … you can’t have a blanket standard. You may say … it sounds nice to say, ‘I have a blanket standard; here’s what it is’ … But you know … it won’t be a blanket standard.”
- “We were the big bully, but we were not smartly led. And we were the big bully who was the big stupid bully.”
We want to hear what you think. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.