In the second US presidential debate, Republican nominee Donald Trump repeatedly used the definite article ‘the’ – before descriptions of African-Americans and Latinos.
While seemingly innocuous, many commentators have been frustrated at Trump’s use of ‘the’ before describing groups of people and Linguists agree, calling it a form of ‘othering. Lynne Murphy, reader of Linguistics at the University of Sussex, argues that “’the’ makes the group seem like it’s a large, uniform mass, rather than a diverse group of individuals.” She argues that when people say “the Americans say it that way” rather than “Americans say it that way,” there is a clear indication that the group saying the former have a more negative attitude towards Americans.
Murphy notes that Clinton also uses the definitive article, but when discussing governments or military groups (‘the Russians, the Syrians’) rather than everyone of a particular nationality or ethnic group. HSPS and PPE applicants should consider what presidential language choice suggests about the candidates and their political affiliations.
English and Modern Languages students should look into the idea of language as a tool of Othering, and how words become slurs used to malign certain groups of people.
- History of Art Reading List History of Art at Oxford and Cambridge allows you to... Read more >
- Download a Biology Personal Statement “Assisting with the post mortem of a dairy cow during... Read more >
- LNAT ‘So you want to go to Oxbridge’ Answers If you have been reading our book ‘So you want... Read more >
- 30 Real-Life Oxford and Cambridge Interview Questions The Oxford and Cambridge interviews are notorious for having academically... Read more >
- Sports psychology for interviews Channel your inner champion Major sports personalities use these techniques... Read more >
- Download a Law Personal Statement “Participating in a Citizenship Foundation Mock Trial Competition during Year... Read more >
- Are my grades good enough for Oxbridge? Grades are an area of much misunderstanding when it comes... Read more >
- University Admissions Tests: How Would You Reply? Here we have a few questions and answers to sample... Read more >
- Pooling: Fast Facts You may have heard people talk about “pooling”, or maybe... Read more >
- Communications expert top tips One of our communications specialists, has his own advice for... Read more >
- Personal Statement Solution: Brainstorm Sheet Writing your personal statement may just be the grimmest part... Read more >
- Using stats: dos and don’ts When making an application, you must be careful about using... Read more >
- The Great Collection of Past Oxbridge Interview Questions The great thing about an Oxbridge interview is that it... Read more >
- LNAT overview If you’re applying for Law at Oxford you will need to sit... Read more >
- Cambridge Law Test mini mock paper & answers If you are applying to do Law at Cambridge, chances... Read more >
- Music Reading List Applying for Music at Cambridge or Oxford requires a range... Read more >
- Personal statement: our tips in the Independent Here are 3 quick tips every hopeful should consider before... Read more >
- PPE: answer like a pro If you’re applying for Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) or... Read more >
- Admissions Tests: our tips as featured in the Independent Last year, the Independent asked us to provide some simple... Read more >
- Choosing a course From Arch and Anth to Veterinary Medicine, the range of... Read more >
- Cambridge Law Test overview If you’re applying to read Law at Cambridge you will probably need... Read more >
- Oxbridge: the global impact Concerning UK university admissions, UCAS have released some interesting stats.... Read more >
- Download a Law Personal Statement 2 “I have read The Origins of the Second World War... Read more >
- Outside reading: the key to a good application When it comes to writing your personal statement and preparing... Read more >