If you’ve been waiting for GOP 2016 frontrunner Donald Trump to finally act his age, you might be waiting for a while. According to a linguistics analysis performed by Politico’s Jack Schafer, “The Donald” succeeds splendidly in speaking to conservatives on their level — which is that of a fourth grader.
Politico’s Jack Schafer looked into the nuances of Trump’s speech patterns, and determined that he is probably the perfect candidate for those on the Right who can’t grasp the intricacies of operating a toaster.
“Donald Trump isn’t a simpleton, he just talks like one,” Schafer wrote in an August 13 article regarding Trump’s audience-appropriate speech patterns. “If you were to market Donald Trump’s vocabulary as a toy, it would resemble a small box of Lincoln Logs. Trump resists multisyllabic words and complex, writerly sentence constructions when speaking extemporaneously in a debate, at a news conference or in an interview. He prefers to link short, blocky words into other short, blocky words to create short, blocky sentences that he then stacks into short, blocky paragraphs.”
Schafer calls Trump’s word choice “a spontaneous reinvention of Ogden’s Basic English, the pared-down lexicon of 850 words selected by early 20th century linguist/philosopher C.K. Ogden as the bedrock of a new world language.” He ran Trump’s responses at the downright humiliating (for Trump) August 6 Fox News debate through the Flesch-Kincade test, which determines the grade level of, in this case, Trump’s speech. What he discovered is pretty obvious to anyone who has listened to Trump’s words. Not only did Trump score at grade-school level, but he also managed to rank well below all but one of his fellow GOP candidates:
Run through the Flesch-Kincaid grade-level test, his text of responses score at the 4th-grade reading level. For Trump, that’s actually pretty advanced. All the other candidates rated higher, with Ted Cruz earning 9th-grade status. Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, and Scott Walker scored at the 8th-grade level. John Kasich, the next-lowest after Trump, got a 5th-grade score.
While one might assume that Trump had a bad night — a very, very bad and downright humiliating night — a 4th grade level might be the pinnacle of his accomplishments in the area. Trump’s rhetoric at an August 11 news conference only managed a 3rd grade score.
Trump’s rhetoric matches the intelligence level one would expect from a man who genuinely believes our President was born in Kenya, that all Mexicans are rapists, and whose file on Politifact is more than 70 percent “False” or “Pants on Fire.” Conservatives aren’t exactly the brightest individuals in the world.
A study published in 2012 showed that “lower cognitive ability” is not only linked to prejudice (like a belief that every Mexican you meet is going to rape you) but to right-wing ideology as well. In other words, if we were to imagine the United States as a school, conservatives would be the kids in the corner eating paste — Trump included.
“Reality is complicated and messy,” University of Virginia psychologist Dr. Brian Nosek told The Huffington Post in an email at the time. “Ideologies get rid of the messiness and impose a simpler solution. So, it may not be surprising that people with less cognitive capacity will be attracted to simplifying ideologies.”
While some, including Schafer at least offhandedly contend that Trump is intelligent underneath all the bluster and idiocy, we’re not convinced. Jeff Foxworthy could not be reached for comment, but it is almost certain that, no, Donald Trump is not “Smarter Than a 5th Grader.”
Watch simpleton Donald Trump appeal to conservatives, below:
Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons