Cover of When Words Trump Politics by Adam Hodges
When Words Trump Politics
Adam Hodges


200 pages.

Paperback ISBN: 9781503610798
Ebook ISBN: 9781503610804

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Trumpism has not only ushered in a new political regime, but also a new regime of language—one that cries out for intelligent and informed analysis. When Words Trump Politics takes insights from linguistic anthropology and related fields to decode, understand, and ultimately provide non-expert readers with easily digestible tools to resist the politics of division and hate.

Adam Hodges's short essays address Trump's Twitter insults, racism and white nationalism, "truthiness" and "alternative facts," #FakeNews and conspiracy theories, Supreme Court politics and #MeToo, Islamophobia, political theater, and many other timely and controversial discussions. Hodges breaks down the specific linguistic techniques and processes that make Trump's rhetoric successful in our contemporary political landscape. He identifies the language ideologies, word choices, and recurring metaphors that underlie Trumpian rhetoric. Trumpian discourse works in tandem with media discourse—Hodges shows how Trump often induces journalists and social media agents to recycle and strengthen his spectacular and misleading claims.

Those who study democracy have long emphasized the need for an informed electorate. But being informed on political issues also demands a keen understanding of the way language is used to convey, discuss, debate, and contest those issues. When Words Trump Politics analyzes the political rhetoric of today. The actionable insights in this book give journalists, politicians, and all Americans the successful tools they need to respond to the politics of hate. When Words Trump Politics is an essential resource for political resistance, for anyone who cares about freeing democracy from the spell of demagoguery.

About the author

Adam Hodges is a linguistic anthropologist with expertise in political discourse. His books include The "War on Terror" Narrative: Discourse and Intertextuality in the Construction and Contestation of Sociopolitical Reality (2011) and Discourses of War & Peace (2013). His articles have appeared in American Anthropologist, Discourse & Society, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Language & Communication, and Language in Society.

"This is no ordinary time for language and politics, but Adam Hodges successfully marshals his considerable expertise in linguistic anthropology to bring insight into a political discourse that is often presented by journalists and pundits without this useful framework. Trumpian discourse is overrepresented and yet underanalyzed, and this book highlights the special need to attend to the subversive, anti-democratic use of language Trump has modeled."

—Paul V. Kroskrity, University of California, Los Angeles

"When Words Trump Politics is a thoroughly insightful account of the president's rhetorical collusion with the dark strains of American public life—its racism, hypernationalism, xenophobia—and his systematic obstructions of truth. When the histories of the political language of this era are written, Hodges' book will be a seminal point of reference."

—Geoff Nunberg, University of California, Berkeley

"Hodges' book brings together many valuable insights from linguistics and philosophy, offering a quick and rewarding read. Highly recommended!"

—David Lanius, Journal of Language and Politics