"The midtowm and midtern year"

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At the beginning of Donald Trump's press conference yesterday about the results of the midterm elections, he said something psycholinguistically interesting:

it was a big day yesterday, an incredible day
and last night the republican party defied history
to expand our senate majority
while significantly beating expectations in the house
for the midtowm
and midtern year

These were "midterm" elections, but his first attempt at that word got tangled up with the word midtown — an active concept for a New York City real-estate developer — in an unusual way. He combined the vowel nucleus of midtown with the final consonant of midterm, and then added "and midtern" to correct the mistake (as if he meant the conjunction all along), but again substituting the final consonant from the other word:

So it's that rare phenomenon, a simultaneous malapropism and spoonerism.

[h/t E.Z. Granet]


  1. richardelguru said,

    November 8, 2018 @ 7:12 am

    ….and a yuge one, the best!

    [Sorry, resistance was futile.]

  2. Yuval said,

    November 8, 2018 @ 9:30 am

    That first one almost sounds like a high-register, non-rhotic rendering of midterm.

  3. Aelfric said,

    November 8, 2018 @ 9:53 am

    Mr. Trump has something of a habit of doing this; initially making an error and simply going forward with 'and' (sometimes 'or') as if to deny there was any error. Chris Hayes on MSNBC has chronicled this, including the time the President improbably claimed that an ICE agent goes by both "CJ" and "DJ": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqTC4yQ6-Ls This is obviously something more than a speech tick, as he elaborates with the "call me either one line." Interesting, fairly novel pattern to me.

  4. Aelfric said,

    November 8, 2018 @ 9:54 am

    And now I have doomed myself: please excuse the errant quotation mark above, which should be after 'one,' not 'line.' Cheers.

  5. David Marjanović said,

    November 8, 2018 @ 7:09 pm

    That first one almost sounds like a high-register, non-rhotic rendering of midterm.

    I wonder if you're right, and if Trump sounds more like Bernie Sanders when he gets tired enough. His year is rhotic, but just barely…

  6. Andrew Usher said,

    November 8, 2018 @ 8:14 pm

    No, that's surely wrong; first even Sanders was rhotic for the NURSE vowel, as are essentially all Americans today, and his pronunciation of 'year' is entirely unremarkable. Further the diphthong that was once used by many New Yorkers for NURSE (examples can be easily found) didn't sound like that.

    The original post must be the correct explanation. For what ever reason 'midtown' was in Trump's mind as he tried to say 'midterm', and we got a perfect mix-up.

  7. PB said,

    November 11, 2018 @ 8:37 pm

    On "midtern": Terns, especially Arctic terns (Sterna paradisaea), are quite aggressive birds (though beautiful and fascinating). I have been "midtern", in the midst of terns, so to speak, in Iceland and on Svalbard, and their habit of defending their nests by swooping very close by the heads of those who come too close is rather fearsome.

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