President Donald Trump has been incredibly active on Twitter — both before and during his presidency — but one of the major aspects of his social media presence isn’t what he writes, but rather how he writes it. The president’s posts to the social media platform are frequently laden with typos and grammatical errors, which fellow Twitter users as well as the media pick up on within just seconds of a post going live.
And while his errors are a chance to poke fun at the president, Salon reported that one Ivy League professor suggests that they reveal something even more critical about President Trump — that he is unfit for the presidency.
On Friday, January 11, the Atlantic published an essay penned by Columbia University linguistics professor John McWhorter, in which he diagnosed the president’s frequent misspellings on social media.
McWhorter cited a recent tweet from the president, one in which he twice incorrectly wrote “forrest” instead of “forest.” Trump quickly deleted the tweet and reposted it using the correct spelling, but the internet had already caught wind of the error — and began cracking jokes. Aside from misspellings such as this, the president often uses grammar incorrectly, as well as “eccentric capitalization.”
The president’s “serial misuse of public language,” no matter how fun it may be for internet trolls, signifies “one of many shortcomings that betray his lack of fitness for the presidency,” McWhorter argued.
“Trump’s writing suggests not just inadequate manners or polish… but inadequate thought,” he wrote, further arguing that it exposes that he has not evolved past “the mentality of the precollegiate, trash-talking teen.”
Brilliant people may be bad spellers and even inarticulate. But there are things about Trump's sloppy tweets and diluted vocabulary usage that suggest qualities of thinking (or not) that suggest his unfitness for his office. https://t.co/Sp8KxvUi6G
— John McWhorter (@JohnHMcWhorter) January 11, 2019
McWhorter also noted that even the country’s last president to take office without a college degree — Harry S. Truman — strove for linguistic perfection, working hard to send well-written letters to Bess Wallace, whom he eventually married.
One letter he sent even revealed that he used a dictionary to be sure he correctly spelled the word “dictionary,” an example the Columbia University professor provided to show the stark contrast between one of the country’s least formally educated presidents to the one currently in office.
“Truman, writing to a loved one, wanted to get the word ‘dictionary’ right,” McWhorter wrote. “Trump, writing to the entire nation, is happy with a half-dozen flubs in one terse tweet. The sheer lack of focus on Trump’s part, and by extension, the staff who should be vetting messages like this, is stunning.”