Word substitution of the month

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An interesting malapropism:

The audio exchange:

Trump: It is going to disappear. It's going to disappear, I ((said)) that.
Stephanopoulos: ((Now if we don't))
Trump: It would go away without the vaccine, George.
    But it's going to go away a lot faster with the
Stephanopoulos: It would go away without the vaccine?
Trump: Sure, over a period of time. Sure, with time. It goes away.
Stephanopoulos: And many deaths.
Trump: And you'll develop- you'll develop turd- like a herd mentality,
    it's gonna be- it's gonna be
    herd developed, and that's gonna happen. That will all happen.

Just the phase with the substitution:

And you'll develop- you'll develop turd- like a herd mentality,
    it's gonna be- it's gonna be
    herd developed,

The reason for the initial segment-level substitution — "turd" for "herd" — isn't clear, though maybe it's a perseveration of the consonant place feature from the initial /d/ in "develop".

But the substitution of "mentality" for "immunity" is a classic error. Both words are four-syllable nouns, ending in -ity, with second-syllable stress. And "herd mentality" is a common enough phrase to have its own Wikipedia page.

I'm assuming that this was a Fay-Cutler malapropism rather than a Richard Brinsley Sheridan one.


  1. John Shutt said,

    September 19, 2020 @ 2:02 pm

    It may also not hurt, in facilitating the substitution, that the first consonant in both words is the same. Might be /too/ fine a point that in both the consonant before -ity is sonorant.

  2. M. Paul Shore said,

    September 19, 2020 @ 3:15 pm

    I wonder whether up until the last moment Trump’s mind (such as it is) was vacillating between “tolerance” and “herd [immunity/mentality]”, and what finally came out was a blend of the two.

  3. Rose Eneri said,

    September 20, 2020 @ 8:31 am

    My husband and I get such a kick out of listening to President Trump speak. He's always doing the sorts of things exemplified here. I'm LOLing thinking about combining the 2 mistakes into "turd mentality."

  4. Andrew Usher said,

    September 22, 2020 @ 6:53 pm

    Not the most eloquent way of expressing it, is it? Even though he is of course right. "Herd developed" is even stranger than the use of 'herd mentality'. I imagine this has nothing to do with the unfortunate _mental_ interference some people have between 'herd immunity' and 'herd mentality' (believing the former must be an example of the latter, or something).

    k_over_hbarc at yahoo.com

  5. Alec said,

    September 23, 2020 @ 5:02 pm

    And what about the "strenuous flu"?

  6. Andrew Usher said,

    September 23, 2020 @ 6:15 pm

    What is a 'strenuous flu'? Is that something else Trump said (or allegedly said) about the coronavirus?

    If so again his meaning was clear but his word choice very bizarre.

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