Linguistic Study: Trump Speaks Like An 11-Year-Old Child

| by Kathryn Schroeder
Donald Trump  Donald Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has the grammatical acumen of an 11-year-old child, according to a linguistics study.

In an assessment of five 2016 presidential candidates, the Language Technologies Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, found at what reading level they tend to give campaign speeches with their study, “A Readability Analysis of Campaign Speeches from the 2016 US Presidential Campaign.”

Trump’s speeches were found to correlate to the reading level of students between grades sixth and eighth, with a high level of variation depending upon his audience. In terms of grammar, Trump averages just below the sixth grade level.

The candidate with the highest grade level used in speeches is Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont with above tenth grade. The former president Bernie's reading level most closely resembles is Republican Ronald Reagan.

Trump’s strongest competitor for the GOP nomination, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, scores higher than him by using a reading level for students around grade eight, but below grade nine. But Cruz does not deviate from his choice of words as often as Trump in speeches.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who was found to use a reading level above the eighth grade, has the highest amount of deviation from one speech to another.

When it comes to grammar usage, Trump has the lowest showing of all candidates -- below sixth grade. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who recently dropped out of the GOP race, has the highest showing at almost the eighth grade level. In nearly a tie are Clinton and Sanders, both using grammar around the seventh grade level, or students aged between 12 and 14.

Interestingly enough, every candidate has decreased the reading level of their speeches since launching their campaigns.

The researchers used the REAP readability model, which was developed for vocabulary, to conduct the analysis. The model includes a “database of sets of texts, one set for each grade level.”

“Assessing the readability of campaign speeches is a little tricky because most measures are geared to the written word, yet text is very different from the spoken word,” Maxine Eskenazi, one of the researchers, said, according to the Independent.

“When we speak, we usually use less structured language with shorter sentences,” she said.

Sources: A Readability Analysis of Campaign Speeches from the 2016 US Presidential CampaignIndependent / Photo credit: Matt Johnson/Flickr

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