Sex, lies, and childishness; and insomnia

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It's a bit early for Language Log to do any analysis of the presidential debate last night. Where I live, it came on after 2 a.m., and where Mark lives it is still only 5:15 a.m. right now. But Vox has already analysed the interruption rate, a well-known index of gender in speech style. Trump interrupted Clinton exactly three times as often as she interrupted him. I think Language Log can confidently affirm that here we have convincing linguistic evidence that Trump is male and Clinton is female.

But one other thing I noticed, as I struggled to stay awake in the darkness of the middle of the night here in Edinburgh, with the bedside radio softly relaying the debate via the BBC World Service, was the astonishingly childish nature of many of Trump's interruptions.

"Take a look at mine also!" he interjected when Clinton mentioned her campaign website, like a kid saying "Me too!".

"Not!" he snapped at one point, like a 9-year-old, during one of her utterances.

"Wrong, wrong, wrong!" he intoned over her as she observed that he had supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

"That makes me smart!" he interpolated as she suggested that there were at least some years (and maybe more) when he paid no federal income tax. (I'm smart! I'm smart! I don't pay tax like you stupid people!)

Even in the small hours of the morning as I drift off to sleep, I know the verbal style of a little boy in a school playground when I hear it.

It wasn't too much of a surprise to hear Trump lying like a little boy as well. He repeatedly denied statements about him that have been carefully documented as true by the Washington Post, the New York Times, and scores of online sources. His view about whether to go to war with Iraq, before the invasion started, was "I guess so"; his claim about global warming being a Chinese invention was made in writing, on Twitter; and so on.

In a startling new lie he told Clinton she had been "fighting ISIS the whole of her adult life." (ISIS/Daesh emerged for the first time in 2009. By that time Clinton had enjoyed four decades of her adult life. The lie is simply astonishing.)

So it wasn't just a little boy in a temper yelling "Did not!" in a fight with a girl; it was a presidential candidate uttering and repeating scandalous, barefaced lies during a debate intended to confirm his suitability for the top executive post in the US government.

It's such an extraordinary situation that I must admit it almost kept me awake.

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