Alternative Spelling – Making Amerika Grate Again – One Weird Werd At A Time
Making Amerika Grate Again – One Weird Werd At A Time
Advisor Stephen Miller’s strange use of the language must fit right in with the president’s spelling ideals. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Donald Trump never vowed to make English great again.
So nobody can accuse the U.S. president of breaking any promises as he and his surrogates wage war on spelling, grammar, semantics, syntax, punctuation and once-accepted definitions. If this White House ever publishes a special MAGA Dictionary, the entries will include “attaker,” “Denmakr,” “San Bernadino,” “honered,” “unpresidented” and “rediculous.”
I suspect this is why Trump’s signature resembles an EKG for someone who just ran a 100-metre dash: the dense, trilateral waves make it impossible to tell if he’s just scribbled, “Donold Trimp.” If he remembers to send the First Lady a Valentine on Tuesday, there’s an excellent chance it will read: “Dear Melanoma, I will luv you for at leest for more years. Please be mined.”
Language is contagious. This is why people often unconsciously adopt phrases and inflection tics from family and friends. You can see this most dramatically with kids. Once a word or exclamation gains currency on the playground, it boomerangs into homes and the viral replication is, to quote my daughters, “Sick, right?”
What’s interesting about Trump’s assault on the language is that it is spreading to agencies and proxies beyond the realm of ideology. It’s even infecting keepsakes.
On Sunday evening, the Library of Congress was forced to pull the $16.95 “Donald Trump Inauguration Print” from its online store after a typo in the pull-quote was widely mocked on social media: “No dream is too big, no challenge is to (sic) great. Nothing we want for the future is beyond our reach.”
Well, except for that second “o” in “too.” That was beyond the reach of the howler monkey tasked with proofreading this rediculous poster. Now, considering the first “too,” just five words earlier, is spelled correctly and the marketing blurb includes “this print captures the essence of Donald Trump’s campaign,” we probably can’t rule out an act of insider sabotage.
But if this was yet another example of orthographic sloppiness — and we’ve had dozens in the last year from Team Trump — what does it say about the culture of accuracy in this administration? It’s almost as if the worker bees can’t be bothered sweating the small details because the big picture seems like one big typo: “He wants to spend $21.6 billion on a wall? Screw it, I’m spelling it whall.”
As the internal misery grows, the mistakes multiply.
Earlier on Sunday, before the poster gaffe, the U.S. Department of Education’s twitter account pushed out an inspirational quote: “Education must not simply teach work — it must teach life.” There’s nothing wrong with the message. But the epigram was attributed to one “W.E.B. DeBois,” which is apparently how W.E.B. Du Bois is now spelled under new school czar Betsy DeVos.
It’s a good thing they didn’t try to quote Dostoyevsky.
After that error was widely mocked, the agency made matters worse with: “Post updated — our deepest apologizes (sic) for the earlier typo.”
A typo in an apology for a typo?
From the Department of Education?
I’m starting to think this is why every member of Team Trump lies so blatantly and with such ease: words have lost all meaning to them. They are just a series of random letters. There is no objective reality, no pressure to abide by conventions. There is just cultlike subservience to a man who, based on his tweets and verbal outbursts, has the vocabulary of a third-grader.
Just watch the TV interviews Stephen Miller did on Sunday. Miller is a White House senior policy adviser who looks like he just got off a Greyhound bus after a gruelling trek from his mortician convention. His eyes are dead. He looks deeply hostile to life itself. He speaks with the vague exertion of a man struggling to dislodge a marshmallow that’s stuck to the roof of his mouth.
But while rehashing debunked claims about widespread voter fraud or confusing presidential powers with how things ought to work inside a dictatorship, what Miller is ultimately doing is butchering the language.
He says things that are demonstrably untrue and uses words that mean the opposite of what he seems to think they mean. This is an alternative dialect in a world of alternative facts. What matters is sheer repetition, not empirical evidence.
No wonder Trump was so pleased with Miller’s TV tour on Sonday.
He did a grate job, just the gratest.