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Column: 'Trump's speech style has become more presidential and a lot less fun'

Trump’s language has evolved and changed since his campaign trail, writes Amy Rose Harte.

Amy Rose Harte PR and media consultant

ON THE CAMPAIGN trail, his speaking style was aggressive, blunt, frank and of course, braggadocious. But has Trump’s language changed? Does he, as he claims, really “know the best words”?

To mark the wildly overblown arrival of his first 100 days in office, two substantial studies have now emerged which parsed Trump’s language in a bid to see what it reveals about his priorities.

So, in the spirit of true parse-nership, I’ve summarised them for you, looking at his spoken word and Twitter activity. (Turns out, he hasn’t actually made a total parse of himself.) Wordnerds, assemble.

Trump’s favourite phrases

CNN analysed Trump’s public remarks over the last three months and produced a list of his favourite phrases. Here are five of them:

“Believe me”

What this phrase indicates depends on which side of the fence you sit. Fans of Trump perceive it as a note of reassurance from the President, while others hear it as a natural speech pattern from a man overcompensating for the fact that he isn’t believable. Believe it or not, it’s his number one phrase.

“We are going to take care of”

This smacks of what one of the world’s top linguists, George Lakoff, refers to as the “Strict Father” model of government, where the President sees himself as parent-protector and the nation as family. This phrase also featured heavily on the campaign trail, but interestingly, using the word “I” instead of “we”. Odd as it may sound, this shift in Trump’s language might highlight a recognition of the need for national unity.

“Billions and billions of dollars”

This is Trump’s way of trying to convey to people that he is embarking on an expensive, ambitious undertaking without having to provide any specifics. This speech habit is also reflected in another stock favourite identified by the analysis, “we are going to make a lot of money.”

“He’s a great guy”

He was an insult machine on the campaign trail, but it turns out as President, he’s rather complimentary. In true Trump style though, he keeps his compliments general and rarely itemises an individual’s credentials, again possibly to avoid specifics. This one is up there with “incredible men and women”, another darling of the Trumpian tongue. He even called Enda “a great guy” during the St Patrick’s shillelagh in the Whitehouse.

“Winning again”

If Trump could marry a linguistic motif it would be this one (stranger things have happened – read: his actual election to high office). His fondness for it matches his natural competitive streak.

Tamer on Twitter

Another study, this one by the Telegraph, looked at how Trump’s Twitter habits have changed. It identified a dramatic shift in the words he now uses online, compared to those he employed on the campaign trail.

He may not have campaigned in poetry or be governing in prose, but the principle still applies – the difference in rhetoric between the two periods is stark.

For example, there hasn’t been a single use of #draintheswamp since the election, which is startling, given that it was one of Trump’s primary campaign slogans.

Much to her disappointment, Hillary references have dwindled while mentions of #maga (Make America Great Again) and #bigleaguetruth are also appearing less frequently.

Changing priorities

In another insight into the President’s changing priorities, the word “media” has been tweeted 29 times since his first day in office, four times more often than during the campaign.

Unsurprisingly, the word “news” has also increased fourfold, and was preceded by “fake” in 27 of the 36 instances in which it was used. CNN, ABC news and New York Times all have risen in popularity as the war rages on between the Whitehouse and the Fourth Estate.

Overall, and rather predictably, his most commonly-used word was “great”. “Jobs” is another word that has recently fallen into Trump’s favour, probably due to the fact that the US unemployment record has been tumbling in the last few weeks.

To summarise, is Trump’s style more presidential? Yes. Is it a wee bit less fun? Yes.

Go on, you can say it – Make Trump Crazy Again.

Amy Rose Harte is a senior account manager with The Communications Clinic, a public relations and media training firm in Dublin. She is an expert in media management, PR, crisis communications and speechwriting.

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About the author:

Amy Rose Harte  / PR and media consultant

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