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Trump’s Formulaic Twitter Insults
Anthropology News (2017)
  • Adam Hodges
In their compilation of the people, places, and things Donald Trump has insulted on Twitter, the New York Times “found that one in every eight [tweets] was a personal insult of some kind.” The insulting tweets are rife with hyperbole and exaggeration, repetition, and gratuitous modifiers and intensifiers. Here’s the formula. Start with a small set of nouns. Trump’s favorites include clown, disaster, dope, dummy, joke, liar. Next, layer on the hyperbole and exaggeration by adding a needless modifier. Adjectives far outnumber nouns in his list of tweeted insults. Trump’s preferred adjectives range from absolute to zero. In between are bad, biased, boring, corrupt, crazy, crooked, disgraceful, disgusting, dumb, failed, failing, falseincapable, incompetent, ineffective…and, of course, sad, stupid, terrible, weak. The final step is to sprinkle intensifiers—semantically vacuous adverbs—over the message to enhance its emotional impact. 
  • Twitter,
  • Donald Trump,
  • political discourse,
  • repetition,
  • intertextuality,
  • insults,
  • performance
Publication Date
January 19, 2017
Publisher Statement
Copyright 2017 American Anthropological Association
Citation Information
Adam Hodges. "Trump’s Formulaic Twitter Insults" Anthropology News Vol. 58 Iss. 1 (2017) p. e206 - e210
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