Reality TV star, tax return hoarder and 45th president of the United States Donald Trump has long enjoyed an unconventional relationship — a kind of ménage à un — with the English language. Unconstrained by the preoccupation with syntax and clarity that hobbles lesser communicators, Mr. Trump is a pioneer in what might be termed a post-coherent style of discourse.
In service to this groundbreaking approach to nouns, verbs and adjectives, Mr. Trump relies on a small cache of vague, resonant words strung together in ways that send persnickety guardians of "good grammar" into conniptions. Like his kindred linguistic forebears — Hemingway, Samuel Beckett, Raymond Carver, Sha Na Na's Bowzer — Mr. Trump has whittled his working lexicon down to a sharp, hard point. In the president's case, he then uses that point to stab and slash at inconvenient facts, ivory-tower eggheads, war refugees (and war heroes) and all the women who have accused him of harassment and sexual assault through the years.
Fascinated by Mr. Trump's speech patterns, researchers at the obscure but feisty Dalwhinnie Institute of Scotch Whisky and Rhetorical Studies recently set out to identify other prominent public speakers who might share the president's verbal idiosyncrasies. Employing proprietary linguistic algorithms and funny-looking mathematical diagrams, the Dalwhinnie researchers eventually discovered exactly one match for Mr. Trump's discursive stylings: the famous western lowland great ape and leading Gorilla Sign Language (GSL) practitioner, Koko.
Below are a series of quotes from Koko (via GSL) and from Mr. Trump (via his mouth and his tweets) that DISWRS researchers deemed especially striking, both in terms of semantic similarity and what lead author of the Dalwhinnie study, Dr. Angus Erstwhile, called their "gob smacking originality."
None of the quotes appears with attribution; instead, readers are urged to suss out for themselves which are Koko's, and which are Mr. Trump's.
Be forewarned: It's not as easy as it sounds. Good luck! ____________________________________
1. You know, I'm, like, a smart person.
2. All ball. All ball fall.
3. Fluff frown pet. Apple doorknob mother.
4. Did you know my name is in more black songs than any other name in hip-hop? Russell Simmons told me that.
5. The concept of shaking hands is absolutely terrible, and statistically I've been proven right.
6. Finger friend. Bathroom sink dragon.
7. There's nobody bigger or better at the military than I am.
8. Bang boy. Peanut necklace. Dumpster fire. Knock knock.
9. Bad machine head.
10. I have a son — he’s 10 years old. He has computers. He is so good with these computers. It’s unbelievable. The security aspect of cyber is very, very tough. And maybe, it's hardly doable.
11. Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest — and you all know it! Please don't feel so stupid or insecure, it's not your fault.
12. Me. Big cake. Me. Baby bracelet. Me. Hungry. Me. Hungry. Me.
13. Apologizing is a great thing, but you have to be wrong. I will absolutely apologize, sometime in the hopefully distant future, if I'm ever wrong.
14. Bird. Gong. Pie. Wall. Sad. Big.
15. I know words, I have the best words.
16. Look, having nuclear — my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John Trump at MIT; good genes, very good genes, OK, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart — you know, if you’re a conservative Republican, if I were a liberal, if, like, OK, if I ran as a liberal Democrat, they would say I’m one of the smartest people anywhere in the world — it’s true! — but when you’re a conservative Republican they try — oh, do they do a number — that’s why I always start off: Went to Wharton, was a good student, went there, went there, did this, built a fortune — you know I have to give my like credentials all the time, because we’re a little disadvantaged — but you look at the nuclear deal, the thing that really bothers me — it would have been so easy, and it’s not as important as these lives are (nuclear is powerful; my uncle explained that to me many, many years ago, the power and that was 35 years ago; he would explain the power of what’s going to happen and he was right — who would have thought?), but when you look at what’s going on with the four prisoners — now it used to be three, now it’s four — but when it was three and even now, I would have said it’s all in the messenger; fellas, and it is fellas because, you know, they don’t, they haven’t figured that the women are smarter right now than the men, so, you know, it’s gonna take them about another 150 years — but the Persians are great negotiators, the Iranians are great negotiators, so, and they, they just killed, they just killed us.
17. Cuckoo orange fur bomb. Bye world. Bye.
(Note: Koko’s quotes could not be independently verified. They might, strictly speaking, be imaginary. Mr. Trump’s, on the other hand, are recorded here verbatim from actual public utterances and tweets by the reckless, thin-skinned toddler who now occupies the Oval Office. Sweet dreams, everyone.)