CNHI News Service
Grammarians appalled by President Donald Trump’s mangling of the English language in his tweets got a jolt even they didn’t expect.
Trump smote the common noun rule on capitalization by declaring he will hereafter upper-case the word “country” whenever he’s referring to the United States in his written messages.
And, of course, by extension it is assumed his loyalists will now do likewise as a show of fervent nationalism, causing English teachers and dictionary editors heartburn.
Trump bragged on his Twitter account at precisely 10:09 a.m. Friday: “When referring to the USA, I will always capitalize the word Country!”
The universal grammar rule says to capitalize country only if it is the first word in a sentence. Otherwise, it is a common noun -- the same as foot or mouth -- and is not capitalized.
To defy the rule is considered a foot-in-mouth blunder of the English language, a condition Trump can’t seem to shake.
It doesn’t embarrass Trump or his political base. They embrace his bloopers as an earthy talking president and damn the rules of grammar.
For example, they cheer loudly over his indiscriminate use of the descriptor words “beautiful,” “tremendous” and “greatest” even though his frequent, haphazard use of them demeans their intended effect.
So what is next for Trump, the linguist?
Will his personal style rule on capitalizing country extend to the word “president?” Standing alone, it is also a common noun capitalized only at the start of a sentence or when it comes before the president’s name.
That same rule applies to the words “king” and “emperor” and “czar” – titles Trump has been accused by his political foes of harboring in his self-loving heart.
As could be expected, Trump’s “country” tweet caused a variety of comments on social media.
“Well, thank goodness the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES took this time to share his commitment to the bastardization of capitalization. I feel much safer now,” posted Christopher Bartlett (#TheTrop_72).
“Let me rephrase this one for you. Consider it my gift to you today. When referring to the USA, I will always capitalize on our Country,” wrote Jack Stansbury (@standsburyj).
Dictionary.com, the popular online source for proper use of language, also weighed in. It acknowledged Trump can apply whatever contrarian style he wants, but the official rules of grammar will not bend.
“You run the country,” it tweeted to Trump. “We still get to say how people capitalize.”
Bill Ketter is the senior vice president of news for CNHI. Contact him at email@example.com.