October 26, 2016

Trump's "speaking style is more feminine by far than any other candidate in the 2016 cycle, more feminine than any other presidential candidate since 2004."

According to "Donald Trump Talks Like a Woman," by Julie Sedivy in Politico Magazine. Sedivy is a linguistics and psychology expert who is looking at statistical research that shows "clear... differences" between men and women:
[M]en are more likely to swear and use words that signal aggression, while women are more likely to use tentative language (words like maybe, seems or perhaps) and emotion-laden words (beautiful, despise)." But other patterns are far from obvious.... [W]omen are heavier users than men of the pronoun “I” whereas the reverse is true for the pronoun “we”; women produce more common verbs (are, start, went) and auxiliary verbs (am, don’t, will), while men utter more articles (a, the) and prepositions (to, with, above); women use fewer long words than men when speaking or writing across a broad range of contexts....

But Donald Trump is a stunning outlier. His linguistic style is startlingly feminine, so much so that the chasm between Trump and the next most feminine speaker, Ben Carson, is about as great as the difference between Carson and the least feminine candidate, Jim Webb. And Trump earns his ranking not just because he talks a lot about himself or avoids big words (both of which are true)... he also shows feminine patterns on the more subtle measures, such as his use of prepositions and articles. The key then is not what Trump talks about—making Mexico pay for the wall or bombing the hell out of ISIL—but rather how he says it....
Much more at the link. I'm very interested in this because Meade and I have often talked about how feminine Trump is (even as he has some obviously masculine things about him). I'd also point to his gestures and the tone of his voice.

Trump's use of language is a great mystery. Obviously, some people react very negatively to it, perhaps because they have a prejudice against women and instinctively feel that human beings who are too emotional and relationship-oriented should not be trusted with power. Others respond very enthusiastically to him, even way out of proportion to their alignment with his policy issues. I'm thinking of the religious social conservatives but I'm also thinking of myself. I don't agree with much of what he says and he strikes me as ridiculously underprepared for the responsibility of the presidency, but I am strangely drawn to him. What is it with very unusual man? Possible answer: He's so womanly.

78 comments:

Bob Ellison said...

Trump does speak in a feminine way. He has a high voice. Most men tend to speak in monotone, trying to sound low in pitch, but Trump uses his whole range.

When Trump raises his voice, it strikes with power, and when he lowers his voice, it sounds rather soothing. I could imagine that voice singing a lullaby to a baby in a crib.

The word choice analysis does not impress me. Trump talks like someone who wants revenge on the schoolyard bully.

rhhardin said...

The difference is in what interests them, not the words.

Trump isn't trying to impress as a wonk, so the style changes to a lower grade level.

rhhardin said...

Maybe it's Trump's interest in beauty contests. That's womanly.

Bob Ellison said...

Some day, I will conduct an analysis of the primary pitch levels of successful presidential campaigns, and I will show that the lower-pitched, deeper-quality voice almost always wins.

Except for in 1960. And maybe 1992. And maybe 2016.

Meade said...

And Trump breaks just like a little girl.

rhhardin said...

Did this linguist notice any other difference between men and women, I wonder.

I suspect it's a hidden curiosity that she's avoiding.

rhhardin said...

If some administrator would make her lay out her research goals, she might realize what she's really curious about.

n.n said...

There is a false equivalence and conflict between father and mother. As it is for men and women, it is for father and mother, they are equal and complementary.

Trump raises his voice, it strikes with power... I could imagine that voice singing a lullaby to a baby in a crib

Trump is the patriarchal figure. Head of the household. A father at heart.

Clinton leads the anti-father and anti-mother factions. She is ambiguously neither.

rhhardin said...

There ought to be a LGBT category for feminine speaking men.

Also civil rights protection.

No birthday cake for you.

Joe said...

Is it because he repeats himself?

rhhardin said...

When Trump speaks, he grabs women by the pussy.

A strange attraction.

Like why women kiss frogs.

Meade said...

Back in 4th grade we used to sing along with The Four Seasons. But come on, Frankie Valli's falsetto could be a little... feminine.

I'm sure boys all across the country were having fun trying to get their prepubescent voices as low as possible, "walk like a man." And then go high with, "sing like a girl." We cracked ourselves up every time.

Ann Althouse said...

Sorry, the software double posted.

Here are the comments that were on the other one, which I've deleted:

madAsHell said...

Wasn't there something about Trump's small...."hands". It was said in such a way as to imply a small penis.
10/26/16, 5:27 PM
Sebastian said...

"I am strangely drawn to him. What is it with this very unusual man? Possible answer: He's so womanly." That made me laugh, so thanks. PUAs of the world, pay attention: the key to getting Trump-level action is to be more womanly.

But if frequency in the use of "I" is the key marker of linguistic womanliness, then O's gotta have Trump beat.
10/26/16, 5:29 PM
Joe said...

Is it because he employs so many women in high level positions? (Serious question.)
10/26/16, 5:33 PM
D. B. Light said...

The most feminine major political figure on the stage these days is Barak Obama, by far.
10/26/16, 5:34 PM
Rob said...

Cunning Linguists for Trump!
10/26/16, 5:35 PM
Terry said...

Wait a sec . . . is the prof talking about the use of language by biological women or people who identify as women, or both? Because if the researcher can distinguish between biological women and men who identify as women by anything other than biology, well, he will have to burned.
Nope, nothing else will do. Burnt to cinders.
10/26/16, 5:38 PM
Bob Ellison said...

Obama has a truly beautiful voice. And he can even sing with it. He has a great sense of pitch. You can't buy that.
10/26/16, 5:39 PM
Ann Althouse said...

"But if frequency in the use of "I" is the key marker of linguistic womanliness..."

I think there's a LOT more to it (based on the short article).

I don't think saying "I" a lot is as narcissistic as some people think. A lot of the use of I is to be clear about not attributing your observations to others or claiming unwarranted objectivity.

I know I say "I think" very often and it's in order to be precise, that this is only something I'm working on understanding and not something that is a knowable fact.
10/26/16, 5:40 PM
readering said...

Regardless of his points, he does have an interesting way of speaking. I was struck by that one of the few joint interviews I've seen of him, with his new running mate. Maybe I find New York talk more interesting than Midwestern.
10/26/16, 5:49 PM
Bob Ellison said...

"A lot of the use of I" is imprecision and gathering-in. "I don't like this thing." Sort of like a tiny protest parade. Don't you agree with me? I'm gonna keep shouting until you get tired of disagreeing.
10/26/16, 5:49 PM
Unknown said...


Meade is far more attractive in all ways than Trump, by far. How can any woman married to a Meade be strangely drawn to a Trump?! It is inexplicable! There were over 900 people in Guyana that were also strangely drawn to a charismatic sociopath. Go figure.
10/26/16, 5:50 PM
Michael K said...

There is a theory, I think fairly well established, that languages which are tonal, like many Asian languages, help children retain their tone sense and makes them better musicians.

There are thousands of Chinese students studying classical music and some great Chinese classical musicians.

Maybe Obama benefited from his time in Indonesia. I don't know much about Malay, but it seems to be a relative of Tamil. Sanskrit is related to Indo European. and is not tonal.

Malay, like most Austronesian languages, is not a tonal language.

Well, there goes my theory of Obama's singing.
10/26/16, 5:50 PM
Unknown said...

I am repulsed by the man, which isn't strange at all.
10/26/16, 5:51 PM
mockturtle said...

What next? You must be so enthralled by this subject you posted it twice.
10/26/16, 5:52 PM

Cacimbo Cacimbo said...

Perhaps you are being drawn to Trump's apparent openness, real - or not. Didn't you say you liked G.Johnson admitting when he did not know something. Well Trump only began the political art of pivoting in the last two debates. Before he would directly respond to a media question rather than obfuscating like most politicians.Trump is also happy to roll his eyes, snort and smirk. All things polished pols like HRC would never dream of doing. I suspect many find this refreshing and that it helped Trump win the primary.

mccullough said...

Trump had a tv show for a decade. His speech and gestures communicate well to the masses. I'd say he's a hybrid of feminine and masculine communication.

Laslo Spatula said...

Possible answer: He's so womanly."

This explains the "grab them by the pussy" line.

Seriously.

Almost all male bluster is recycled: you recognize the phrases, the cadence, etc, because you've heard all the minute variations over decades from countless men, and countless men in countless movies.

But most men don't recognize this particular phrase. It talks awkward -- VERY awkward: bluster is honed, practiced, smooth through repeated delivery.

So where am I going with this?

I am going here:

I will submit that the "grab them by the pussy" reads like a woman writing a script for a tough guy, and vainly trying to create dialogue that doesn't come natural to her.

I will then say that this did not come natural to Trump, either: when Trump tries to be 'one of the boys' he IS awkward: see "blood coming out of her whatever," another example of dialogue that -- in a movie -- just wouldn't ring true.

Trump has obviously spent many hours with Union workers, construction guys, the odd Mafioso, and knows the need to fit in at some level: he knows the importance of being one of the guys, but the vocabulary is not part of his upbringing, so it sounds like someone cursing in a language of which they are not fully fluent.

I bet Ivanka could talk dirty better than Donald.

I would certainly love listening to her try.

I am Laslo.

Joe said...

Jesus, Laslo, you actually made sense. Now, back into your cage.

buwaya said...

" the vocabulary is not part of his upbringing, so it sounds like someone cursing in a language of which they are not fully fluent."

I think you may be right. He wasn't brought up in that tough-guy world and has been winging it for a very long time.

As for the kids - IMHO, experience and observation, that the later generations swear far worse than any actual sailors I've met. The modern ones are even worse than my gang were, and we TRIED.

HT said...

McEnroe! That’s who Trump reminds me of so often.

Honestly, I did not get the article. I read it, but was not persuaded and did not understand the differences in any tangible way.

And where’s Bill Clinton on that graph?

rehajm said...

...he strikes me as ridiculously underprepared for the responsibility of the presidency...

This is the biggest load of bullshit used against Trump. If you haven't held the job before you are ridiculously unprepared for the position.

Ideally you have some knowledge of how the world works, how to cooperate with people, how to manage people. Have some skills in negotiation. You try to surround yourself with specialists to educate and provide guidance...

What the fuck did Obama know about anything before he inherited the job?

Earnest Prole said...

Let’s also remember Bill Clinton in his prime, entirely comfortable in his feminine skin — but don’t take my word for it.

chickelit said...

Tim Kaine has effeminate mannerisms. He practically lisps.

buwaya said...

"What the fuck did Obama know about anything before he inherited the job?"

True. The preparation issue is entirely bogus based on the precedent of Obama alone.
If the public could accept him then anyone would do.
Given that, pre-Obama all were extremely well prepared, certainly in the last century. All were governors, cabinet members, colonial governors, supreme commanders, vice presidents, or at least senators with long service.

The weakest president before him, in the 20th century, probably was John F Kennedy, and he had several times as much experience as Obama.

The weakest serious candidates as far as experience in political office were probably Wendell Wilkie (but with plenty of public policy background) and Ross Perot (ditto).

AReasonableMan said...

buwaya said...
The preparation issue is entirely bogus based on the precedent of Obama alone.
Given that, pre-Obama all were extremely well prepared, certainly in the last century. All were governors, cabinet members, colonial governors, supreme commanders, vice presidents, or at least senators with long service.


And yet. And yet, he was a success, whereas most of these others you list where less successful and some horrific failures. Maybe. Just maybe, some people are more talented at politics than others.

buwaya said...

"And yet. And yet, he was a success, "

?
You need to define success. He was successful at getting elected.
But the country certainly isn't better off.
Nearly all the previous presidents left it in some fundamentally better condition, not that they necessarily deserved credit for that.

HT said...

FDR had three point something terms, Obama will have had only 2, not to mention that he inherited disastrous wars.

gadfly said...

Trump answers question much the same way that his beauty contestants do - imprecisely and often off subject.

DAVID SANGER (NYT): We are under regular cyberattack. Would you use cyberweapons before you use military force?

DONALD TRUMP: Cyber is absolutely a thing of the future and the present. Look, we're under cyberattack, forget about them. And we don't even know where its coming from.

DAVID SANGER (NYT): Some days we do, and some days we don't.

DONALD TRUMP: Because we're obsolete. Right now, Russia and China in particular and other places.

DAVID SANGER (NYT): Would you support the United States, not only developing as we are, but fielding cyberweapons as an alternative?

DONALD TRUMP: Yes, I am a fan of the future, and cyber is the future.

AReasonableMan said...

buwaya said...
Nearly all the previous presidents left it in some fundamentally better condition, not that they necessarily deserved credit for that.


This bland assertion wilts under even the most cursory examination.

cubanbob said...

...he strikes me as ridiculously underprepared for the responsibility of the presidency..."

First presidential decision a candidate makes is his choice for VP.
Obama picked Biden. Epic fail and it is evident in Obama's competence as president. Hillary picked Kaine. Enough said. Trump picked Pence, someone who is seriously presidential.

gadfly said...

@Laslo Spatula said...
I bet Ivanka could talk dirty better than Donald.

How about Ivanka and the unseen "mulatto cock?"

Fen said...

"not to mention that he inherited disastrous wars."

They weren't disastrous until Obama got ahold of them. And now we are waging FIVE wars disastrously.

Which reminds me of another example of how dishonest and corrupt Democrats are:
Yesterday: Saddam was boasting about WMDs, you were stupid to believe him.
Today: Trump was boasting about chasing pussy, you are stupid to not believe him.

Situational ethics with principles as flexible as a Clinton intern. Once you realize the Left doesn't really believe in the things they lecture the rest of us about, you begin to understand what they really are about.

Rhythm and Balls said...

I don't agree with much of what he says and he strikes me as ridiculously underprepared for the responsibility of the presidency, but I am strangely drawn to him. What is it with very unusual man?

You're drawn to his narcissism.

Fen said...

"Meade and I have often talked about how feminine he is"

Poor form. I'm no fan of his (his behavior toward Althouse Loyalists during The Meltdown was disgraceful) but how would you feel if Meade discussed your fertility or menopause with your colleagues at the University?

dreams said...

She went for his balls. Hitting below the belt.

Fabi said...

Obamacare continues to hamstring our economy. I guess that's a success if you wanted to hamstring our economy.

dreams said...

Obama is a closet gay or maybe he's a tranny, whatever it is I don't like it.

Rhythm and Balls said...

"Meade and I have often talked about how feminine he is"

Poor form. I'm no fan of his...


Would Meade talk about you being "masculine?"

dreams said...

I like that Trump gets the job done, he is a successful man whereas Hillary has failed at everything and yet somehow the dummies think that makes her very qualified. We're doomed.

dreams said...

"Meade and I have often talked about how feminine he is"

As in Althouse says Trump is kind of feminine and Meade says yes dear.

Fen said...

Rhythm Balls: Would Meade talk about you being "masculine?"

I'm a United States Marine. Infantry. You'd have an easier time trolling a brick wall.

traditionalguy said...

Ok. The secret is out. DaTrump is emotionally very sensitive. He uses FEELINGS to understand every opponent he deals with like only a woman usually can do. But he uses that extra skill with a steel trap mind like aggressive dogs do their sense of smell and speed to protect and serve their owner/family.

Thank God he has decided to include the American Middle class into His Family.

Rhythm and Balls said...

I'm a United States Marine. Infantry. You'd have an easier time trolling a brick wall.

Lol. I was addressing the blog host, goofball.

Chill out there, tough guy.

Fen said...

Lol. I was addressing the blog host, goofball.

Then why quote and respond to me, woman?

Jim Sweeney said...

I've never met a Marine who referred to the infantry. That's doggie talk or civvie talk. So I doubt you are what you claim.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Are you done being a bitch and escalating friendly fire, Fen? You're embarrassing and being embarrassing with this thing already. Whatever point you had made (the same point I was making) is getting lost with your inability to let go of this.

Luke Lea said...

His face was quite feminine in his younger days -- but with a killer smile! https://goo.gl/SjrC5R

Fen said...

I've never met a Marine who referred to the infantry. That's doggie talk or civvie talk. So I doubt you are what you claim.

Well then, you now met one who referred to the infantry. You can doubt what you want, or put your money where your mouth is: name any sum, at least $100 to make it worth my while (Althouse holds). We'll go over to This Aint Hell and have him run my DD214 for you.

Or you can be a little cunt and question my honor from behind your keyboard.

dreams said...

I don't consider Hillary's failures, her total lack of any accomplishments to be good preparation for the presidency. Trump's real world experience and obvious accomplishments are far superior preparation than a woman who spent her life getting rich by feeding at the government trough.

Fen said...

Rhythm Balls Are you done being a bitch and escalating friendly fire, Fen?

Friendly fire? I remember you as being an intellectually dishonest leftie troll. That's why I didn't regard your little passive aggressive bitch move as an honest mistake. You ran out of credibility with me long ago. Unless someone hijacked the name while I was away?

But no, my bad. We'll just pretend that after some 10 years here at Althouse, you haven't quite gotten the hang of quoting the right person. Sure. I mean, its not like you tried to poke at me and then curled up fetal when called on it.

You are so corrupted you blind yourself. An honest man acting in good faith would have said something close to "sorry, I screwed up" and we would already have forgotten about it. But you want to double down with insults instead. So, my initial read stands - you played a bitch move, got smacked down, and now you want to gaslight. So dishonest. So corrupted.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Well, that's about three paragraphs and at least a dozen and a half sentences devoted to your anger over thinking I was addressing you, Fen. Is it possible to get any bitchier?!! Ha ha.

Looks like Trump isn't the only efenminate one!

Don't take yourself too seriously. PTSD and suicide is high in veterans. Relax. Laugh. Enjoy something without shooting at it, for a change.

dreams said...

"Jesus, Laslo, you actually made sense."

Laslo is very insightful.

Rhythm and Balls said...

For the record, I note that someone can be quoted without being addressed. Paid writers (and those who read them), seem to understand this.

Quick Fen! Sand grains got outside of a child's sandbox. Go start a fight over it!

madAsHell said...

Tim Kaine has effeminate mannerisms. He practically lisps.

There is something seriously wrong with that man. I'm sure his wife will be seriously disappointed when he leaves her for a man.

chickelit said...

@Fen: You've been gone quite a while. In case you weren't lurking during that time you should be aware that R&B is no longer reflexively left-wing. Also, garage mahal apparently dislikes DNC liberals as well.

madAsHell said...

Other than that.......he is a Joe Biden insurance policy!!

walter said...

"Meade and I have often talked about how feminine he is"
WeirdHouse

traditionalguy said...

Meade is far from weird. He is an aggressive mans's man. But we can assume that he won the Professor's heart with his sensitive feelings.

walter said...

Yes..the man's man who felt referring to twisting a light bulb into place was "kinda rapey". I guess he leaves that sensitive chore to Ann.

CStanley said...

A post about gender ambiguity with pronoun ambiguity. I'm pretty sure Trump was the antecedent, not Meade, though I read it as Meade at first too.

I think Laslo is spot on.

traditionalguy said...

Trump with female thought still uses traditional male leadership, so he has a building count of structures. Hillary with male thought uses traditional female rulership, so she has a body count of dead men.

Fen said...

Rhythym: Well, that's about three paragraphs -

Wasn't talking to you, was talking to everyone one else. And you're the one who turned it into a thing. All you had to do was say "my mistake" and move on.

Instead, you launch a passive aggressive attack like a woman, hide when called on it, attempt to gas light, and then project your inability to let it go onto me.

I would tell you to learn to quote, but we both know you were being dishonest. So maybe you should stay away from the "bitch" references for a spell. Lightning may strike.

Rob said...

Laslo not only made sense, he brought to mind another politician who tried so hard to be one of the guys that you had to question his sexuality: Richard Nixon.

Rhythm and Balls said...

You really are an angry guy - and completely incapable of letting things go. What's the matter - did your company jump you and shove a rifle up your butt or something?

God bless. And try to have a less douche-y day.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Fen - (or Femme, whichever you go by) -

Don't try to be a mind-reader. You never took a psychology course.

You probably never even went to college. And you obviously never read a book. (Quoting is not the same as "addressing." Learn the difference, low-info guy).

Does the army still offer job-retraining? Do you have any skills that translate to a civilized settings, where people aren't killing each other?

Or is your only skill in life "generalized belligerence?"

If you get antsy, I've got a number for a hotline you can call.

Hang in there, my valiant wounded warrior! Picking anonymous fights where you punch at ghosts and make paranoid accusations is generally not the sign of someone who left the field of battle intact.

walter said...

Yes Rob, all the women in Trump's trail make excellent beards..

walter said...

Looks like Fen really got under R&B's skin.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Paranoid liars who put words in other people's mouths and make never-ending infantile accusations get under everyone's skin, walter.

But we're talking about a guy with few actual skills in life. I should try to be understanding, but there's an epidemic out there afflicting his kind. So now's not the time to let him roam roughshod over civilians without any boundaries.

cubanbob said...

It's getting a little poofy in here. What's the gist of the thread? That Trump is a little light in the loafers? That somehow he's not a manly man? In another thread the discussion is about 1980. Are we back to 1980 in this thread? I'm not worried about any alleged feminine traits Trumpy might have as long as he stays on time and on target with taxes and good economic policies. He could metamorphosis into The Duke but if he took up Hillary's positions I would be worried about something of real consequence. As a net taxpayer I can see Hillary getting ready to do terrible things to me in a Laslo sort of way. Does that make her masculine?

walter said...

"Fen - (or Femme, whichever you go by)"
Ah yes..rising above the infantile.

Rhythm and Balls said...

You're missing the point, walter.

Which is fine. Indulge a PTSD patient's outbursts, if you must.

walter said...

In which case..by all means insult and provoke. Give him yer address.

eric said...

Laslo, that made a hell of a lot of sense.

Well said.

Howard said...

Trump is a ladies man, so he speaks like a female so he can grab more pussy. It's obvious by body language and sreech patterns that Hitlary has bigger stones than Donald Tinyhands.

Jim Sweeney: eat shit and die because you have no idea what you are talking about and have no standing to eye fuck or run your eager cocksucker to Fen and assholes like him. He might be a banty little prick and a hyper macho braggart, but don't question his service. ...and Fen-fuck off I'm not defending you because you are deplorable and irredeemable.

R&B has a point about PTSD just the training is enough of a mind-fuck to turn even the phony brave into a potential stone cold killer.

Bootcamp Mindfuck

walter said...

"I will then say that this did not come natural to Trump, either: when Trump tries to be 'one of the boys' he IS awkward: see "blood coming out of her whatever," another example of dialogue that -- in a movie -- just wouldn't ring true."
Equating the "blood coming out of her whatever" with the "grab them by the pussy statement" is really working too hard.
A lot of that here.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

And Trump earns his ranking not just because he talks a lot about himself or avoids big words (both of which are true)

Bwah! It's not sexist, it's science.

Ann Althouse said... I'm thinking of the religious social conservatives but I'm also thinking of myself.

We may need a citation on that one, Professor. One of the big storylines this elections has been the way Trump has split the evangelical Repubs, right? Some big-name religious leaders endorsed, some didn't, and his support among that group has at times polled below Romney's (I think). Are you saying you're surprised that any religious SoCons support Trump?

Jim Baird said...

So what you're saying is, he talks like a fag and his shit's all retarded?

(Can't believe I was the first to say that...)

traditionalguy said...

Good debating, R&B.

IMO the point is not Trump's sissiness. The point is aggressive male thought balanced by emotionally sensitive female thought are always at some level of balance in people.

But Trump seems to have just worked hard to master both talents, like the basketball players who can dribble and shoot right handed and left handed.

Mick said...

The media is desperate.

Trump Landslide coming.