"Unpresidented" And Spelling As A Social Construct
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

"Unpresidented" And Spelling As A Social Construct

In mocking Trump's misspelling, we are not doing ourselves any favors.

61
"Unpresidented" And Spelling As A Social Construct
Josh Haner/NYT

On Saturday, Trump sent out a tweet about the Chinese seizure of an underwater US drone, calling it "unpresidented." He later corrected the tweet to instead say "unprecedented."

In response, many news articles were written about the occurrence with superficial analysis, and many tweets were sent mocking the error. In particular, George Takei tweeted out a screenshot of it, with the hashtag #LearnToSpell.

There is no shortage of major character flaws and unbelievable blunders on the part of Donald J. Trump. In the context of his character as a whole, his spelling does not seem a flaw that merits critique, unless such critique is done with finesse.

Spelling is primarily important for ease of communication -- it is simply easier to read words when they follow a standardized spelling. The same argument applies to grammar. Beyond that, however, it is arguable that the primary function of proper spelling and proper grammar is as much a social signifier of education and intelligence -- though not a very good one, given how many highly educated, brilliant people still often make mistakes in spelling.

Given this implicit link between proper language usage and intellectualism, criticizing spelling could, perhaps, be viewed a component the intellectual elite's equivalent to social justice's call-out culture. It may help to preserve the integrity of the language, as social justice call-outs may help to preserve community norms, but it is accomplished through shaming and thereby excludes.

This takes place in a context where a large component of Trump's popularity is the extent to which he is an anti-establishment candidate, and in order to do so has taken up anti-intellectualism as a rhetorical tool. Admittedly, it is possible believing this is intentional gives him too much credit.

Nevertheless, it is worth reconsidering the desire to mock errors in spelling at a time when so many already feel excluded from and opposed to an intellectual elite. In many ways, when mocking certain features of Trump, we are also mocking those of his supporters who have the same characteristics and who, if one could forgive them their flaws, desperately need to be called in.

In the end, intellectualism is valuable. It is intellectualism that gives us the tools of analysis necessary to realize that Trump is not on our side. Such analysis is also what may, with any luck, grant us the tools to eventually defeat him. The intellectual work ahead would, in an ideal world, transform our dialogue into a fruitful one, rather than the empty mockery that largely followed Trump's misspelling.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Featured

Planning Another Christmas Party

Don't just plan another plain party but get creative to have everyone wanting to come back next year!

3455
Getty Famous

You know it's Christmas when the radio stations change to all of your favorite holiday tunes, the air is still, and stores have the best sales. With all my favorite things from Christmas happening my least favorite probably has to be when I have to go to another same old boring Christmas party that I get invited to every year. Here are some Christmas party ideas so that you won't have another sad Christmas party.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

High School Soccer is Wildly Important

For Young Players Who Want to Succeed at The Next Level

7961
High School Soccer is Wildly Important

Whose choice is it? The parent? The player? There are a number of reasons that a kid may sit out of high school soccer, and to be completely honest; It is a huge mistake. High school soccer is the final piece in the puzzle that takes a player from above average or elite, to college ready by the end of their senior year. Every year thousands of talented athletes don't play for their high schools. Why though?

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

8 Things That Should Be On Everyone's Holiday To-Do List

December is around the corner, are you ready?

7568
8 Things That Should Be On Everyone's Holiday To-Do List
Unsplash.com

As they tend to say, its the most wonderful time of the year! People have begun to compile their Christmas to-do lists in anticipation for the season of sugarplums and gingerbread.

The history of the Christmas to-do lists goes back hundreds of years, almost as old as the holiday itself, however, people tend to fall out of this habit as they get older. This is unfortunate, as the theme of Christmas tradition can add bundles of the spirit of joy to your families.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Fall Weather Must-Haves

Put away the swim suits and your favorite high-waisted shorts!

8319

The transitional months of fall can cause some fashion headaches as you try to figure out what clothing to keep in your closet. With limited amount of college living space and the ever-unpredictable Nebraska weather, sometimes it’s difficult to know what should be taking up that precious closet space as you transition into winter. As you pack away those tanks and shorts for the chilly months ahead, get your closet ready with a few Fall must-haves. 

Keep Reading... Show less
Content Inspiration

Top 3 Response Articles of This Week

Take a look at the articles driving big conversations on Odyssey.

7636
https://www.theodysseyonline.com/video/we-are-rollins-odyssey
https://www.theodysseyonline.com/video/we-are-rollins-odyssey

At Odyssey, we're on a mission to encourage constructive discourse on the Internet. That's why we created the response button you can find at the bottom of every article.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments