Koko the gorilla

Reality TV star, tax return hoarder and 45th president of the United States Donald Trump has long enjoyed an unconventional relationship — a kind of ménage à un — with the English language. Unconstrained by the preoccupation with syntax and clarity that hobbles lesser communicators, Mr. Trump is a pioneer in what might be termed a post-coherent style of discourse.

In service to this groundbreaking approach to nouns, verbs and adjectives, Mr. Trump relies on a small cache of vague, resonant words strung together in ways that send persnickety guardians of “good grammar” into conniptions. Like his kindred linguistic forebears — Hemingway, Samuel Beckett, Raymond Carver, Sha Na Na’s Bowzer — Mr. Trump has whittled his working lexicon down to a sharp, hard point. In the president’s case, he then uses that point to stab and slash at inconvenient facts, ivory-tower eggheads, war refugees (and war heroes) and all the women who have accused him of harassment and sexual assault through the years.

Fascinated by Mr. Trump’s speech patterns, researchers at the obscure but feisty Dalwhinnie Institute of Scotch Whisky and Rhetorical Studies recently set out to identify other prominent public speakers who might share the president’s verbal idiosyncrasies. Employing proprietary linguistic algorithms and funny-looking mathematical diagrams, the Dalwhinnie researchers eventually discovered exactly one match for Mr. Trump’s discursive stylings: the famous western lowland great ape and leading Gorilla Sign Language (GSL) practitioner, Koko.

Below are a series of quotes from Koko (via GSL) and from Mr. Trump (via his mouth and his tweets) that DISWRS researchers deemed especially striking, both in terms of semantic similarity and what lead author of the Dalwhinnie study, Dr. Angus Erstwhile, called their “gob smacking originality.”

None of the quotes appears with attribution; instead, readers are urged to suss out for themselves which are Koko’s, and which are Mr. Trump’s.

Be forewarned: It’s not as easy as it sounds. Good luck! ____________________________________

1. You know, I’m, like, a smart person.

2. All ball. All ball fall.

3. Fluff frown pet. Apple doorknob mother.

4. Did you know my name…