AND Trump's rhetorical style again

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Listening to Donald Trump's 10/14/2016 speech in Charlotte NC, I noticed something that I hadn't noticed in listening to his earlier speeches. He often  uses a loud isolated monosyllable as a way of transitioning between phrases — and perhaps also as a substitute for the filled pauses that he almost never uses. Some of these transitional syllables are particles like and, but, so,yet; some of them are subject pronouns, especially we. These are all words that are usually "cliticized", that is, merged phonologically with a following word — and Trump sometimes pronounces them that way. But here's a sample of his isolated ANDs from the Charlotte speech:

Here's an example in context:

And here's a more normal cliticized and:

I don't recall having heard another public speaker who does this so frequently.


  1. D.O. said,

    October 18, 2016 @ 12:15 am

    Second example? I think, he's saying "an' we doing great in Florida, doing great" with no noticeable pause between "n" and "w" , but I'm sure you'll prove me wrong with a spectrogram.

    [(myl) My point exactly…]

  2. D.O. said,

    October 18, 2016 @ 12:40 am

    Ah! Sorry, problem not with my ears, but with reading comprehension.

  3. lynn atwood said,

    October 18, 2016 @ 1:47 am

    some radio commentators do it

  4. Jamie said,

    October 18, 2016 @ 4:20 am

    I am curious how this apparent use of words to avoid empty pauses would affect the disfluencies recorded by Ye Tian (in her Sept 30th guest post). Trump had many fewer filled pauses in that analysis but the numbers would be very different if words like 'and' and 'we' were included.

    BTW he also seems to use 'Trump' quite often as a pause filler.

  5. Victor Mair said,

    October 18, 2016 @ 6:42 am

    I would love to see such fine-grained analysis for Hillary Clinton's rhetoric. Is Trump so exceedingly idiosyncratic in his speech that he merits the vast majority of our attention? Doesn't Hillary's rhetoric display any interesting features?

    [(myl) Her speeches are scripted in a traditional way and delivered in a standard style, so there's not a lot to say about her rhetoric in that context that differentiates her from many other politicians. Her performance in debates and press conferences is more spontaneous, but again her style in those contexts has few if any unusual features.

    The main things to discuss about her speeches is their content, not their rhetoric. Which is as it should be, from a political point of view, but is not really the province of this blog.]

  6. bks said,

    October 18, 2016 @ 10:09 am

    Prof. Mair, I'd like to know why so many people characterize her as shrill.

    [(myl) As I suspect you know very well, shrill is a standard negative term to describe the speech of women who are perceived as speaking more loudly than they should, or to describe the content of female speech that persists in raising points that someone would rather not listen to. For some discussion, see e.g. William Cheng, "The Long, Sexist History of ‘Shrill’ Women", Time 3/23/2016; Deborah Cameron, "The taming of the shrill", 3/12/2016; Jordan Kisner, "Can a Woman’s Voice Ever Be Right?", The Cut July 2016; Emma Gray, "Stop Policing Women’s Voices", HuffPo 5/19/2016; etc. ]

  7. Dan Lufkin said,

    October 18, 2016 @ 10:56 am

    @ bks — Perhaps it's because of the pervasive Trumpian meme that Crooked Hillary has no, repeat NO, redeeming features. In his stark world, everyone is either all good or all bad.

  8. Robert said,

    October 18, 2016 @ 11:07 am

    bks, I think Margaret Thatcher was also called shrill in the 70s, before she came to power. Perhaps this is just because they're both women.

  9. Jerry Friedman said,

    October 18, 2016 @ 11:27 am

    Is it a reasonable hypothesis that filling a pause with a long, loud monosyllabic word is an attempt to discourage interruption, possibly more effective than "uh" or "um" because it's a better disguise for the pause?

    Speaking of Hopkins, which I was, is Trump giving me a clue on how to read this?

    "Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
    Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
    Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!"

  10. Charles Antaki said,

    October 18, 2016 @ 1:40 pm

    @Jerry Friedman – another possibility of using 'and' (or any other such particle) in that way is the familiar one of riding over applause, laughter and so on, as if not to have been seeking it. Max Atkinson's old classic Our Masters' Voices had terrific catalogue of such oratorical tricks. He doesn't seem to have done anything with Trump, possibly for embarras de richesses.

  11. Gort Dortchef said,

    October 18, 2016 @ 3:17 pm

    This phenomenon seems utterly, utterly commonplace to me. I probably did not have a semester of school growing up where at least one teacher didn't have this tic. Ask 20 Americans to tell you a story and you'll hear it at least once.

    Is it possible that Mr. Mair has a point that possibly the fascination stems more from the speaker than from the speech?

    [(myl) I have a pretty big collection of transcribed political speeches, broadcast news, meeting recordings, and conversational speech. I just checked a random sample of 100 instances of "and" from each category without finding any examples of this type. So it might be "commonplace" but it isn't common.

    Suggestion: There are lots of political (and lectures) speeches on youtube. Listen to a few of them until you find an example from someone other than Trump, keeping track of how many minutes or hours of material you have to listen to. If the answer is something like "two minutes" then I'll agree you're right, and I've just missed it.

    No doubt other people do this. But 17 isolated transitional ANDs in 35 minutes, as in the cited speech? I don't think so.]

  12. Lazar said,

    October 18, 2016 @ 9:18 pm

    @Jamie: Listen to the start of the fourth recording in this LL post from last year: he manages to say "Trump" eight times in 10 seconds.

  13. jorge said,

    October 25, 2016 @ 3:06 pm

    i believe it's so uncommon because most politicians don't have very many AND's. the donald seems to have many. i like her AND her AND her jajaja

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