Is Trump's Rhetoric Part of His Effort to Brand Himself?

July 18, 2017


Well, we can learn more this fall when the book titled "Talking Donald Trump: A Sociolinguistic Study of Style, Metadiscourse and Political Identity" hits the bookshelves. Although the 45th president of the United States may not have a traceable background in politics, we all know that he is very familiar with marketing, or more specifically branding. According to a theory posed by Jennifer Sclafani, an associate teaching profressor in Georgetown University's Department of Linguistics, "the Donald" may  have used language in a very effective way to create his political brand.

The philosopher Plato called rhetoric the art of winning the soul by discourse. If that statement is true, then Donald Trump may be a master manipulator in his use of hyperbole, repetition and short phrases. One of his most famous stands during his campaign to become president was that Mexico must pay for the wall. In almost a blink of the eye, the saying "Build the Wall" was resonating amongst his backers. Along with "Not Good", "Total Sleazebag" and "Make America Great Again", Trump may have taken a page out Franklin Delano Roosevelt's play book.

If you're a student of political history, this is not even close to the first time that voters were captivated by classical rhetoric. If you look back, poets often became orators or public speakers; and great orators often became successful politicians. In fact, the ability to be linguistically interesting is often more appealing to a crowd than being academically accomplished like republican candidate, Dr. Ben Carson. Sclafani also made two additional points about the President's vocal mannerisms. First, unlike most politicians, he seldom uses the word "Well" to begin his response to a question and he often changes subjects in mid-sentence, which is akin to how we normally converse with others.

We can all learn more about Trump's utilization of casual tone and his simple approach to vocabulary when Sclafani's book is released later this year. Until then, rest assured that our President is a master of branding "his name", "his projects" and "himself", so don't expect the use of hyperbolic nonsense, euphemism and oxymoron to suddenly disappear from the podium. After all, "It's Gonna Be Huuuuuge".

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