LISTEN UP

Donald Trump jokes are easy to make, but they could be how he ends up changing the English language

Obsession
"America First"
Obsession
"America First"

Donald Trump is an easy target for jokes. From his emphatic use of hands to unique speaking style and Tweets, the US president is fodder for mimicry. But the jokes that we make about him today could actually end up changing the way we talk.

“The Trump presidency is a huge event for the English-speaking world,” said Katherine Martin, a lexicographer at Oxford English Dictionary. “It has definitely brought us new words already, and impacted the amount we’re using some others.”

Martin says every president leaves a mark on the lexicon—Ronald Reagan’s “Evil Empire,” and Teddy Roosevelt’s “muckrake,” for example. But Trump’s vocabulary (winning, bigly) has saturated our language faster and more deeply. Former presidents usually relied on prepared remarks by speechwriters, but Trump speaks off-the-cuff at events and is unfiltered on Twitter (SAD!).

Currently, Martin and her colleagues are tracking dozens of words for entries in the dictionary. Some are Trump’s own words (yuge, extreme vetting), while others are about his ideas (Trumpism, Trumpian), the man himself (Trumpkin), his supporters (Trumpista), or his opponents (Never Trumper).

“It’s not merely that we’re adopting his words,” said Martin. “We’re adopting his manner of communication in an interesting way.”

Watch our video to see how one day we might talk like Trump, and not even know it.

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