While there is much debate about just what President Trump has or has not accomplished thus far in his short time in office, there is one achievement that jumps out immediately as an unqualified success: He has made America and American government truly bilingual.
Yes, this long-debated societal issue has finally and firmly been resolved. Clearly, there are two distinct languages being spoken across the country and particularly in Washington. But while the main one continues to be English, the second is not Spanish, French, Chinese or any of the other languages spoken across the world.
It is Trumpese. It originates with the president and is apparently only understood by somewhere around 43 percent of all registered voters in this country.
It is very close to English in its style, pronunciation and grammar. But while it may employ the same words and structure, we are discovering the meanings are often directly opposite of what English would be.
If you don’t think so, watch what happens whenever the president speaks. He seems to talk plainly and simply, in words relatively easy to understand. He loves to tweet, often sending statements out to his millions of followers, as well as the world.
But inevitably, his remarks or tweets are translated by a virtual army of “Trump Translators,” people apparently employed to tell us what it is the president really said. Because whenever what he says appears false or incorrect, it is not because he is mistaken or lying. It is just because we failed to understand the actual meaning.
For example, President Trump recently tweeted that he had been illegally wiretapped by former President Obama, a serious crime and abuse of power. When you look at his tweet, it seems pretty clear if you are speaking English.
One tweet reads: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
But soon, the Trump Translators were out in force telling us Trump didn’t really say “wire tapped” because in Trumpese that means surveillance. They noted the use of quotation marks to highlight that distinction. He never meant his phones were tapped, Press Secretary Sean Spicer and others informed us. He also translated that Trump did not mean Obama himself was responsible.
But another tweet by Trump that same day read: “How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”
We are still awaiting the literal translation of these specific remarks from English into Trumpese. All Trump Translators have told us so far is that it does not mean phones, nor does it mean Obama. Which, while difficult for we English-speakers to understand, seems to be obvious to those fluent in Trumpese.
When then President-elect Trump stated that the crowds at his inauguration were the largest ever, some of us naively believed that meant they were bigger than those for anyone else. Thankfully, the Trump Translators rushed in to say that when translated into Trumpese, that just meant there were a lot of people there.
When he said Mexico would pay for his proposed border wall, he apparently didn’t mean monetarily. That part was lost in the translation from Trumpese. Shame on the rest of us for not catching that.
The list of examples could go on and on, but you get the idea. If you want to know what is really going on, where the real truth lies (pun somewhat intended), you have to learn to understand Trumpese.
Because if you merely listen to the words our president speaks, or merely read what he writes or tweets out, then you run the risk of being seriously misinformed. What Trump says and writes simply cannot be taken literally.
Now some of the more suspicious folks out there might argue Trump does this deliberately in order to manipulate the facts in his political favor. In fact, it has been suggested some of these instances might actually be outright and intentional lies (gasp) rather than simple differences in language.
But then, “lie” might mean something else in Trumpese. It would just be nice if someone could give us the Trumpese word meaning “truth.”
If indeed there is one.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and longtime local official. He can be emailed at billsinsidelook@gmail.com and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.