May 1, 2020

President Trump doesn't want to "cast any dispersions" on China.

I saw it in the transcript — "dispersions" for "aspersions" — but checked the video before believing he said it:



It's not a transcription error. He said "I don’t want to cast any dispersions."

But enough of that. Let's consider what he was invited to cast aspersions on China about and whether he did, in fact, refrain from.... Or do you want to keep talking about "dispersions"? Maybe you are champing — or chomping — at the bit to defend your President. What are "aspersions" anyway? And it's not as though "dispersions" isn't a word. Is there some requirement that a speaker use the most obvious cliché? Does "cast" demand "aspersions" the way "scantily" demands "clad"? But you can choose to say "scantily dressed" — it's not wrong — so why not say "cast dispersions"?!

To "disperse" is to throw things about, and to "asperse" is to sprinkle things. "Dispersion" is the act of throwing things about, and "aspersion" is the act of sprinkling things about. To "cast" is to throw, so it might look as though we're dealing with a redundancy, but the word "aspersion" also means that which is sprinkled. So to "cast aspersions" is to throw the things that are thrown. But "dispersion" is not defined (in dictionaries that I looked at) as both the throwing of things and the things that are thrown. That's why "casting dispersions" sounds wrong. You're saying throwing the act of throwing.

If I wanted to defend Trump here, I'd try to find a dictionary that gave the necessary other meaning to "dispersion" and, failing that, I'd say that "dispersion" is easily understood to mean, in context, that which is dispersed and, as such, "casting dispersions" makes just as much sense as "casting aspersions," and the people who want to hear the most predictable combinations of words are very boring.

Now, on to the substance. From the transcript of yesterday's Coronavirus Briefing:
Speaker 2: Mr. President, you have said that China is doing everything they can to make sure you don’t get reelected. What specifically are they doing?

Donald Trump: Well, China doesn’t want to see me elected and the reason is that we’re getting billions and billions of dollars, many billions of dollars a month from China. China never gave our country anything. China gave us nothing, not 25 cents. And whether it was Biden in charge of China, which was a joke because they ripped off our country for eight years. And in all fairness to Biden and Obama, this went on long before they got into office. And you can go through many administrations until I came along. Then we signed a trade deal where they’re supposed to buy, and they’ve been buying a lot actually, but that now becomes secondary to what took place with the virus. The virus situation is just not acceptable.

Speaker 2: Do you think that withholding information about the virus is related to them trying to undermine your reelection?

Donald Trump: I don’t want to cast any dispersions. I just will tell you that China would like to see sleepy Joe Biden. They would take this country for a ride like you’ve never seen before.

85 comments:

gilbar said...

please please please! the CORRECT phrase is "casting asparagus"
please pay attention in the future

D 2 said...

I used to cast my allusions in the river of knowledge, but I never caught a mermaid, let alone a fish.

Marcus Bressler said...

The use of a word that doesn't exist doesn't bother me here. Most people know what he meant and won't need a "corpseman" to help with the wound that never heals (TDS).

THEOLDMAN

Maybe impeach him again for vocabulary crimes?

Crimso said...

It does beg the question as to whether we would of been better off with Hillary, don't it?

rehajm said...

Sorry, I was derailed a scantily and clad...

narciso said...

https://amgreatness.com/2020/04/30/theres-a-bug-in-microsoft-fu-america-2-0

Howard said...

It's a classic troll move that I use all the time. When you are dyslexic you just learned to go with it and embrace it. Over a lifetime you get to see how people react and ascribe an overabundance of importance to such insignificant details.

Ann Althouse said...

Shakespeare used "aspersions" once (only once). Prospero in "The Tempest":

Then, as my gift and thine own acquisition
Worthily purchased take my daughter: but
If thou dost break her virgin-knot before
All sanctimonious ceremonies may
With full and holy rite be minister'd,
No sweet aspersion shall the heavens let fall
To make this contract grow: but barren hate,
Sour-eyed disdain and discord shall bestrew
The union of your bed with weeds so loathly
That you shall hate it both: therefore take heed,
As Hymen's lamps shall light you.

Quayle said...

I long for the good old Obama days when the president could keep us focused on what matters most: the Price/Equities ratio of publicly traded companies.

Ralph L said...

It's a modified limited hangout so he can cast aspersions later with plausible deniability.

MayBee said...

I'm sure he's right about China, but I think we are only allowed to pretend Russia has preferences about who is US President.

rehajm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Temujin said...

I'll go past the verbiage to say, he was right. That's the point, isn't it? What people will hear is what he meant, not grammar.

Shouting Thomas said...

A strange contradiction has emerged in people who have TDS. They both demand that Trump supporters enroll in a cult of personality and criticize them for doing so.

“He’s your guy! You gotta agree with him about everything!”

I support President Trump because I agree with him on policy more than any other candidate, not out of rabid loyalty to some hero.

I’ve opposed the shutdown from the beginning, and I continue to oppose it.

I’m not a member of a cult of personality, no matter how much TDS sufferers demand that all Trump supporters must be.

That said, this current panic was obviously incited by the CCP and the Dems in the hope of tanking the economy and defeating Trump.

rehajm said...

an aspersion is an attack on the reputation or integrity of someone or something.

a dispersion is a substance, a medium containing something evenly distributed, like particles.

So maybe Trump was reluctant to huck colloids?

Howard said...

I don't know Ralph, Trump might be sheep-dipping himself

MayBee said...

I need to figure out when his briefings are. I used to know to tune in around 5, but now I can't figure out when or if they are happening on any given day. Broadcasting dispersions.

Bob Boyd said...

Top definition

From the Urban Dictionary:

Casting Dispersions
Often misunderstood as 'Casting Aspersions', this ancient term derived from the Spanish 'Castio Dispersionio' referrs to the encanting of the magic spell 'Dispersions' causing, as the name suggests, the target of the spell to break up and scatter before you.

Nathan : Now you're just casting dispersions
Sam : No Nathan, it's 'casting aspersions'
Nathan : It fucking well is not!

by FistyTheFerret November 03, 2005

rhhardin said...

Dispersion is the spreading of a wave owing to different frequencies travelling at different speeds. The speed is the frequency divided by the wavenumber (phase speed) or the derivative of the frequency with respect to the wavenumber (group speed).

It's an abstract noun so there's some trouble throwing it.

One finds the dispersion relation.

Temujin said...

ST- you have been absolutely consistent on decrying the quarantine/shut down from the beginning. I do believe that, in the end, you will have been right. Sweden is going to come out of this much better and much more prepared to move forward than the rest of the world. Assuming of course, they can monitor those coming and leaving the country.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

The Biden win? All fake.

He is puppet. Hillary didn't want to compete.

Howard said...

Dispersion is a route of transport through porous media that is between diffusion and advection.

Anonymous said...

Trump was obviously alluding to the biblical usage: Epistle of St. James 1:1 refers to the twelve tribes "in the dispersion," meaning of course the having-been-dispersed nation of Israel. So there is good precedent to use dispersion to refer to the object; Trump is clearly steeped in the Biblical text.

Ann Althouse said...

Stay on topic. I'll have a post on Biden in a few minutes.

Deleting off topic here.

Bob Boyd said...

Dispersion is used as a noun in investing, isn't it?
As in, "taking a cash dispersion".

Howard said...

Hydrodynamic dispersion is what gives a solute plume it's feather shape

narciso said...

The point is the prc has waged assymetrical warfare against the world , focus on that.

Alan said...

Better than saying "aspidistras, I suppose.

Howard said...

He might not be casting dispersions but he is certainly grabbing them by Ghina

iowan2 said...

Yesterdays briefing showed the idoicy of the DNC scribes. The keep asking the same stupid question. "why did you say nice things about China?" This willful ignorance and/or double standard is so transparent. The "when did you stop beating your wife" is planned disinformation.
Trumps handling of China, when looked at dispationately, is nothing but pure Statesmanship. The very best of foreign powers interacting.
The inference from the kiddie korner, DNC scribes, that President Trump should be calling out China while he is giving a nation wide press briefing, is nothing but "gotcha" questioning. Ben Rhodes is right about one thing. To paraphrase, 'Reporters don't know anything'.
These daily pressers hammer that truism home.

Sebastian said...

"China never gave our country anything. China gave us nothing, not 25 cents"

This is silly. No country "gives" any country anything, except sometimes the U.S. We gained much from trade with China--art of the deals and all that.

But I take Trump seriously, not literally, and I am in favor of reassessing the relationship.

iowan2 said...

The point is the prc has waged assymetrical warfare against the world , focus on that.


Noooooo. Shiny dispersions!

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

China wants Hillary.

Browndog said...

There's an ad running on our local tv, just aired in fact, that says Trump shipped all our masks and PPE to China during the outbreak. "Trump sided with China". It shows AF-1 taking off, to imply Trump delivered them personally.

This message was paid for by blah bly blah (inaudible)

Kay said...

China has a clear preference in the outcome of our election, as does Russia, as does Al Qaeda. It think the best course of action for not helping these people out would be to not vote.

Howard said...

Successful warfare is fought by exploiting asymmetries. dropping fat man and little boy on Japan is one example, a simple ambush is another.

Kate said...

The "Asperges Me" is the Catholic Easter ritual where the priest walks through the congregation sprinkling them with holy water.

Shakespeare was definitely a closet Catholic.

Browndog said...

Name a single country on the entire planet that doesn't have a self interest tied to the results of an American Presidential election.

Howard said...

Help me out I'm having trouble fitting Asperger's into the joke. I think it's the er ending that is problematic.

William50 said...

I like to think of President Trump as the Norm Crosby of politics.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

Lets toss out the only person standing between us and the corrupt deep state over a misplaced word.

Unknown said...

Babylon Bee put out a music video that compares Trump to Moses.

Amazing.

He's the closest thing America has to a Churchill.

People forget that Churchill railed against the Nazis starting in the early 1930s. He was ignored. And mocked.

Trump has condemned China and US trade deals for years.

People also forget that Churchill was hated in part because of his acid tongue. He knew how to put his enemies in their place with words.

Trump ain't witty like Winston, but he is equally brutal in his put downs.

We are clearly headed for very rough times with the Chinese Communists. They know that Trump swings a meat ax. What does Biden have? A cane?

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

use any word as long as it avoids wwIII

...piece out

John henry said...

Remember "covfefe"?

It is still a thing. I just did a search of the NY Times for the word and got more than 20 hits just in the past 2 days.

Since I don't subscribe, I have no idea what the stories were about past the headlines.

I searched, using DDG, for Covfefe in the past year and got a bunch of hits.

I think, and I've said here before, that PDJT is a master at this. Using words, almost correctly, to make people go off like a dog chasing a squirrel.

I'll bet he knows the proper use of aspersion and dispersion. It is a fairly easy slip of the tongue. Or he may have done it on purpose.

I think Howard may have meant something along these lines earlier with his comment about dyslexia

John Henry

Lurker21 said...

I saw the disquisition on aspersions and dispersion when I turned the Internet on and assumed you were talking about Biden, so now I have to rethink my comment. Some historian twenty years from now will write a dual or parallel biography of Trump and Biden playing up the similarities, to make it seem like they are brothers under the skin. Historians can do stuff like that and make money.

bonkti said...
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traditionalguy said...

What about the popular usage of Diss to mean casting aspersions? Trump as usual is one vocabulary usage ahead. He creates a perfect word to beg Xi’s pardon as he clobbers him. The Oxford English Dictionary will catch up to him one day.

The definitions of aspersions and dispersions It made me think of a popular meme of a boy pissing on something labeled the thing being Dissed.

bonkti said...

Bob Boyd at 7:29: You may be thinking of disbursement.

holdfast said...

It's a fairly common error. I once teased someone for it, because I was young, stupid and thought that using proper grammar made me more intelligent.

Mark O said...

When will someone mention that Biden is exposed to blackmail from China relating to the money given to Hunter while they were together in China?

Ken B said...

Never elect a man who confuses larboard and starboard.

Lurker21 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darrell said...

It’s as if millions of corpsemen suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

Lurker21 said...

For a fast talking New Yorker, "cast aspersions" and "cast dispersions" sound very much the same -- something to do with voicing unvoiced consonants before a vowel. It's easy to say that somebody made a mistake (or didn't know the difference) in writing, but harder to come to that conclusion based on speech alone.

Bob Boyd said...

Bob Boyd at 7:29: You may be thinking of disbursement.

I don't know. Every month my mailman drives by and throws a wad of cash into the air and I have to run around picking it up. Sucks, especially if it's windy.
Maybe I checked the wrong box on a form or something. I'll look into it. Thanks.

Lurker21 said...

Of course, with the "any" in the middle, things are different.

thesixdayrace said...

Think about it. It was a perfect choice of words. Super easy translation of connotation (don't even need to ask CNN or GoogleTranslation): "Even though China dispersed something really really bad not just on us but on the whole world, I'm not gonna disperse something like that. That's just not in my toolbox. I'm thinking about other things." ..... Need to watch and listen to the whole press conference to really understand how "dispersion" here is used as a very compact shorthand - for a change.

narciso said...

yep

Known Unknown said...

"Help me out I'm having trouble fitting Asperger's into the joke. I think it's the er ending that is problematic."

Just use Casper Weinberger, then you get almost all the sounds in there at once.

Wince said...

"Please disperse! There's nothing for you to see here. Keep moving!"

Ann Althouse said...

"Dispersion is the spreading of a wave owing to different frequencies travelling at different speeds. The speed is the frequency divided by the wavenumber (phase speed) or the derivative of the frequency with respect to the wavenumber (group speed). It's an abstract noun so there's some trouble throwing it. One finds the dispersion relation."

You're making my point. I know "dispersion" has various scientific applications. But as you say it's " the spreading of a wave" — it's not the thing spread but the act of spreading. It's the same problem of saying you are throwing the act of throwing rather than throwing the thing that is thrown.

Ann Althouse said...

""Please disperse! There's nothing for you to see here. Keep moving!""

So... when the police disperse a crowd, the dispersion is the dispersing of the crowd, not the people who are dispersed.

Bob Boyd said...

Can police disburse a crowd without casting aspersions?

Dust Bunny Queen said...
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Kevin said...

Most people stop at aspersions.

As usual, Trump goes the extra mile.

Francisco D said...

Ann Althouse said ... He said "I don’t want to cast any dispersions."

It is obviously Trump's homage to Norm Crosby.

iowan2 said...

I would challenge anyone the speaks extemporaneously to make the claim they never jumble up words sometimes.

However I understand our hosts love of language. Some seem intent to think it signals way more than it actually does.

Temujin said...

If you say the phrase, "cast aspersions" out loud, what many will hear is 'cas dispersions'. It becomes part of the language for many (most?) people who are not linguistically focused. Such as Trump. There are other such phrases which pair words that, if taken apart, would surprise many people at how they are using that word.

I just can't think of any now and have to get back to work.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

sorry-- I think I used the wrong malapropism

Limited blogger said...

President Norm Crosby

Drago said...

Mark O: "When will someone mention that Biden is exposed to blackmail from China relating to the money given to Hunter while they were together in China?"

ARM has already detailed why having The Glorious and Heroic People's Republic of China ChiComs deliver $1.5 Billion to your crackhead son who is already coming off receiving millions from corrupt russian connected Ukrainian oil and gas executives is really something to be celebrated and not denigrated.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Lurker 21 said For a fast talking New Yorker, "cast aspersions" and "cast dispersions" sound very much the same -- something to do with voicing unvoiced consonants before a vowel.

This is probably the correct answer. If you say "cast aspersions" fast and don't stress a hard "t" and instead say it as a soft "t" and don't pause between cast and aspersions it sounds like cassduspersions. This is probably how Trump thought the word was pronounced.

Maybe it is how his parents and especially his mother who was a native Galic/Scottish speaker pronounced the word.

Regional accents y'all!!

wildswan said...

“Disperse, ye rebels, ye villains, disperse!” ... “Why don't ye lay down your arms?”

That was said at Lexington on April 19 when the American Revolution began. I don't say I can fit it into the press conference context.

On Easter, as pointed put above, in the Catholic ceremony the priest sprinkles the crowd and in the old days, said in Latin "Asperges me, Domine" which was understood to mean, "Wash me [of my sins], O Lord."
Can't fit that in either.

I suppose I think that Trump was aware of the urban idiom (discussed above) and making a joke. So that "I don't want to cast dispersions," means nothing more than that Trump wants to maintain negotiating ability with this other national power which has just lost face, perhaps to a dangerous degree.

Birkel said...

China dispersed a disease.
I think Trump mixed up his words (Occam's Razor) but he has dispersal on his mind.
Now it is on the minds of people who hear his words.

The way the MSM handles things works to its own disadvantage.
The signal gets out despite all the noise.
And the MSM has shown no ability to counter.

I blame the mono-culture of newsrooms.

Gallup has Trump at 49% approval.
47% disapproval.
Oversampling of Democratics, of course.

Josephbleau said...

“Then, as my gift and thine own acquisition
Worthily purchased take my daughter: but
If thou dost break her virgin-knot before
All sanctimonious ceremonies may
With full and holy rite be minister'd,“

Well then let the sanctimony begin, I say.

rcocean said...

Trump does rallies where he talks for hours. He's been talking to the Press - in these briefings - for about 30-60 minutes almost every day. That he makes a error in word choice, now and then isn't surprising. Nobody claims Trump is JFK in verbal elegance. Compared to other Republican Presidents, Trump doesn't compare too poorly. Ford was a stumbling blockhead, Bush II was often incoherent, and Ike was criticized for his tangled syntax. Of course, with Eisenhower, this was often deliberate.

rcocean said...

dispersion aspersions - criticizing a lot of people at once.

rcocean said...

Is disperse a "Dis" word? if so, what is Perce mean? Is it like "gruntled"?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Temujin said There are other such phrases which pair words that, if taken apart, would surprise many people at how they are using that word.

It happens all the time and doesn't say anything about the person's abilities.

So many people say and write "should of" or "would of". It is should have. But because of the pronunciation of the contraction it sounds like ""should OF."

EXpresso when it is ESspresso.

Supposably when they mean Supposedly

I had no idea how to pronouce Armageddon for years since I had only read the word and never heard it. (How embarrassing !)

Roy Lofquist said...

Trump reminds me more and more of Dwight Eisenhower, our most underrated President. Ike was noted for causing confusion amongst friend and foe alike. Example:

"Don't worry Jim, if that question comes up, I'll just confuse them."

To Press Secretary Jim Hagerty who pleaded with Eisenhower not to answer any press conference questions about the delicate Formosan Strait crisis, March 23, 1955. (Eisenhower was, indeed, asked if using atomic weapons on China was an option. He delivered a long, confusing reply which was effectively indecipherable.)



n.n said...

I don’t want to cast any dispersions.

dispersion (n.)

late 14c., dispersioun, "the Jewish diaspora," from Old French dispersion (13c.), from Latin dispersionem (nominative dispersio) "a scattering," noun of action from past-participle stem of dispergere "to scatter," from dis- "apart, in every direction" (see dis-) + spargere "to scatter" (see sparse). Meaning "act of scattering, state of being dispersed" is from early 15c.

- etymonline.com

Trump wants people to focus on the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 (the virus formally from Wuhan), and not be confounded and distracted by JournoListic and Democrat hunts, trials, propaganda, etc. of trimesters past, present, and future.

Peglegged Picador said...

"...people who want to hear the most predictable combinations of words are very boring."

This feels like a cop out. When someone uses a malapropism, they're demonstrating that they don't have a grasp of the words coming out of their mouths and in my mind, an inability to use words clearly and correctly is an indicator that the thinking processes behind those words may also lack clarity and accuracy. Calling people boring because they prefer for language to be used correctly is troubling.

Peglegged Picador said...

#cockedandloaded

jimbino said...

I get the feeling that Trump is either seriously dyslexic or illiterate and that he has spend the entirety of his life's energy hiding his disability. Explains everything except the tweeting.

ken in tx said...

I have not paid any attention to what presidents say on TV since Eisenhower ruined my only night a week to stay up til 8:30 PM. He preempted Davy Crockett, Mike Fink, and the River Pirates, in 1954.

It does not matter what Trump says. It only matters what 'they' say he said.