I stumbled upon this fascinating examination of the unique way Donald Trump uses language to sell his ideas, using a 220-word answer he gave to Jimmy Kimmel in December of last year.
According to Nerdwriter, while other candidates seem hyper-aware that their words will be picked apart and used against them, Trump willfully disregards this fact. As a lifelong salesman he has a huckster’s knack for selling “a feeling”, even if the ideas and facts that underscore it are spurious, racist, or just plain incomprehensible.
One of the most important thing to note is how simple his language is. 78% of his words are one-syllable words, that come in a “rhythmic series like a volley of jabs” and often using one of his buzzwords. 29% of the words are two syllables. And only four words have three syllables (three of which are his favorite word “tremendous”). When put through Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test, it is revealed that Donald Trump speaks at a fourth grade level, the lowest of all the presidential candidates this past election season.
His sentence construction favors simple sentences over complex ones (not surprisingly). He often speaks in the second person, addressing listeners with commands (“Look at Paris,” “Look at what happened in California,” ) or implicates us in what he’s saying, as if we’ve already agreed with him.
Probably the most important technique that he utilizes – and he’s a master at this – is ending his sentences with strong, punchy words. In fact, many times he rearranges his sentence awkwardly, so that he can end strong. These words are crucial to him. They are pointed and they sketch his theme. They are the words the audience remembers. Especially when the rest of his speech is incoherent.
I urge everyone to listen to this. It’s frightening that his often incomprehensible word salad is actually a brilliant tool that accomplishes its intended goals…