No, my headline isn’t just click-bait. This piece really is about Donald Trump.
People in the plain language community have been watching this presidential candidate closely. Specifically, the way he speaks.
It’s been noted that Trump communicates at a lower reading grade level than other candidates. Trump speaks to voters at about a 4th grade reading level. By comparison, Jeb Bush and Hilary Clinton come in around an 8th grade level. Bernie Sanders is at the High School level.
So one obvious question about the rise and success of Trump is this:
Is Donald Trump connecting with the masses by using plainer, simpler more common language?
Trump uses a lot of the tactics that plain language practitioners tout, like short, simple sentences. This makes him sound notably different than the traditional candidates, who all speak with more complex words and sentences.
Does Trump’s simplicity, which also implies an air of transparency, make him sound like “one of the people?” Are voters connecting with Trump – at least partly – because of the way he speaks to them?
But please, let’s keep our conversation focused on language and not politics. (You can find plenty of that elsewhere!)
About the author: Brian Berkenstock is a Center for Plain Language Board Member, and Director of Content Strategy at bswift, an Aetna company.