Trumpspeak: It’s all about the way he talks …

Trump’s speech last night had some clear takeaways: (1) law & order  (2) anti-terrorism  (3) outreach to both LGBTQs and Evangelicals (4) dignity and economic hope for the working class.

The speech was civilized .. which was probably disappointing those folks who were rooting for a crash & burn.

My opinion: he came across as a credible “blue-collar billionaire” …  has genuine empathy for the working class …. still, a bit rough around the edges.

 Breaking: CNN “snap poll” reports that 74% of viewers had a favorable reaction to Trump’s speech.

The speech reminded me of a great piece in the Washington Post by Barton Swaim author of “The Speechwriter: A Brief Education in Politics.”

His basic conclusion: “The most distinctive about Trump … is the structure of his language.”



Swain says that Trump — nnlike most politicians –doesn’t speak in political rhetoric; he speaks in punchlines – short jabs, not convoluted passages.


For context, Swaim argues that “most modern politicians are habitually careful with their language.”

They play defense … knowing that all of their words and sentences will be dissected by political opponents and the mainstream media.

Accordingly, their syntax “tends to abstraction. “

· They speak less about particular things and people — bills, countries, identifiable officials — and more about “legislation” and “the international community” and “officials” and “industry” and “Washington” and “government.”

· And, their sentences are very complex, using “a high number of subordinate clauses and qualifying phrases — “over the last several years,” “in general,” “in effect,” “what people are telling me,” and so on.

The problem: “When they rely too heavily on abstractions, when they avoid concrete nouns, when all their statements seem always hedged by qualifying phrases, they sound like politicians, in the worst sense of the word.


Trump’s language is different.

Trump “speaks in simple sentences, grammatically and conceptually … with very few of the complicating phrases you hear from an ordinary politician … He makes no effort to hedge his statements.””

And, Trump’s sentences usually “withhold their most important word or phrase until the very end.”

Pop, bang … here’s the takeaway … got it?

Trump’s sentences “get even shorter when he lapses into his campaign boilerplate. “

·His sentences sometimes contract to less than fifteen syllables … little more than a subject, a verb, and usually a direct object.

What makes his words effective is that they don’t sound like political speech.

Swaim ‘s overall observation: “For people who’ve grown weary of politicians using vague and convoluted language to lull or impress their listeners, to preserve their options and to avoid criticism, Trump sounds refreshingly clear and forthright.”

Trump may be wrong … or maybe even goofy … but he lays it out short and sweet … and lets people decide if they want to buy in.

So far, a lot of dogs seem to be eating the dog food …



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2 Responses to “Trumpspeak: It’s all about the way he talks …”

  1. Frank Says:

    Not sure the 74% number is relevant since the audience self-selects to watch. The sample size ought to be skewed heavily toward those inclined to be interested and engaged, right?

    I’m not a huge Trump fan- but could be convinced. The one thing I thought he missed is that he is, normally, on the stump- a Happy Warrior. He laughs, jokes around the pugilistic persona.I think that “glad to be in the arena” personality plays well. Last night, he wandered from strident-to-mad-to-“sick and tired of being sick and tired”.

  2. John Milnes Baker Says:

    It’s easy to believe the 74% – to anyone who paid attention to the speakers over the entire four days. (I listened to the whole thing.) The speakers were amazing – particularly his four adult children as well Pence. I’m embarrassed to admit that I was fooled by Cruz and actually voted for him. But he’s the fool.
    Anyone who is hesitant to support Trump should consider three compelling words: “Consider the alternative.”
    Any holdouts should just vote to preserve the integrity of the Supreme Court. That’s reason enough. But in any event he couldn’t possibly do as much damage to this country as Obama and Hillary. I believe Trump will be a great president. He won’t disappoint – his children wouldn’t let him!

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