Her episode airs tomorrow night on Fox.
It's challenge time!
Comment with Just One Thing you've accomplished in the last 24 hours or so. It doesn't have to be a hard thing, or even a thing that you think is particularly awesome. Just a thing that you did.
Feel free to share more than one thing if you're feeling particularly accomplished!
Extra credit: find someone in the comments and give them props for what they achieved!
Nothing is too big, too small, too strange or too cryptic. And in case you'd rather do this in private, anonymous comments are screened. I will only unscreen if you ask me to.
Donald Trump, as we have discussed a few times now, is fond of using big league as a post-verbal adjunct, though it's often misheard as bigly. (See: "Bigly," 2/26/16; "The world wants 'bigly'," 5/5/16; "Don't let 'bigly' catch on," 10/18/16.) On the night of Wednesday's presidential debate, UC Berkeley's Susan Lin helpfully shared a spectrogram of the relevant utterance from Trump, demonstrating the "velar pinch" associated with the final /g/ of big league. The spectrogram first appeared in the Facebook group Friends of Berkeley Linguists and then was tweeted by Jennifer Nycz and Tara McAllister Byun.
It’s def “big-league”-check out that velar pinch! (no it’s not something Trump does to women; is a cue to /g/). Spectrogram from Susan Lin! pic.twitter.com/91AdY60VN4
— Jennifer Nycz (@jennycz) October 20, 2016
After it circulated on Twitter, Lin's spectrogram then got incorporated into news stories from Mashable, Thrillist, Mic, and Washington Post's The Fix, presented as the authoritative word on a subject that has clearly been on a lot of people's minds. (Philip Bump, in his piece for The Fix, noted that on the night of the debate, "bigly donald trump" came in third among all Trump-related Google searches, after "donald trump iraq" and "donald trump iraq war.")
Now that the phoneticians have spoken, this is a good time to look at the history of Trump's peculiar usage, which shows no sign of abating. Just yesterday, at a rally at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Trump ratcheted up big league by pairing it with even bigger league — though of course many people heard it as even biggerly.
Trump in Virginia Beach says he will "cut taxes big league [and] cut regulations even bigger league…" pic.twitter.com/4c17TZ7jNF
— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) October 22, 2016
Here is video of Donald Trump saying "bigly" and “biggerly” today during a speech in Virginia Beach. pic.twitter.com/iYkwJ5e5LX
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) October 22, 2016
I looked through some news databases to trace Trump's growing penchant for big league. First, let's turn the clock back to 1993, when Japan's economy was in the midst of a collapse. In August of that year, Trump, with his soon-to-be-wife Marla Maples, visited Tokyo on an Asian trip, where he was quoted as following:
I have a lot of real estate friends in Japan, many of whom I have seen (this trip), and these people are hurting big league, and they think it is going to get a lot worse. (The Daily Yomiuri, Aug. 19, 1993)
This is the earliest example I've been able to find of Trumpian big league. The next example I turned up is from 1997, in an AP article about Trump canceling plans for an addition to his Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City. Trump was irritated that the New Jersey state government had offered incentives to a rival casino developer, including the construction of a tunnel link.
We're doing that because we think the state of New Jersey is being ripped big league. The taxpayers are being hurt badly by this tunnel transaction. (Associated Press, Mar. 20, 1997)
Two years later in 1999, Trump used big league in a high-profile media appearance: his announcement on CNN's "Larry King Live" that he was forming a presidential exploratory committee to consider a run on the Reform Party ticket.
The fact is, that the world is ripping off this country: Germany is ripping us off big league; Saudi Arabia is ripping us off big league; France, I mean, they're the worst team player I've ever seen in my life. (CNN, Oct. 8, 1999)
Later that month, he repeated the formulation on NBC's "Meet the Press."
I think if we go back and negotiate with Japan and Germany and lots of countries, France, that are just ripping us–Saudi Arabia–you look at these deficits–that are just ripping us big league… I mean, they're just ripping us, and they're ripping us big league. ("Meet the Press," Oct. 24, 1999)
Trump never did end up running for president in 2000, though his big league usage would continue. In early 2004, Trump's competitive reality show "The Apprentice" debuted on NBC, and in a voiceover at the beginning of the first episode, he used big league again.
But it wasn't always so easy. About thirteen years ago, I was seriously in trouble. I was billions of dollars in debt, but I fought back and I won big league. ("The Apprentice," Season 1, Episode 1, Jan. 8, 2004)
A decade later, when Trump was once again flirting with a presidential run, he spoke at the 2014 meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). And once again, big league was in his arsenal.
For those that don't understand devaluation, what they are saying is basically, we're ripping you big league… And believe me, they're taking our jobs, and they're taking them big league. (C-SPAN, Mar. 6, 2014)
But it wasn't until he announced he would be running in the Republican primaries that Trump's big league got much attention. In his announcement speech on June 16, 2015, he used it twice.
Think of it. Iran is taking over Iraq, and they’re taking it over big league. (YouTube)
But Obamacare kicks in in 2016, really big league. It is going to be amazingly destructive. (YouTube)
The misperception of Trump's big league as bigly started in earnest with that speech, with a Dictionary.com blog post noting a spike in online searches for bigly. In September 2015, Slate's Jim Newell wrote about the confusion and got campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks to confirm that Trump was indeed saying big league.
More recently, the Trump campaign has sought to capitalize on the phrase with the #bigleague hashtag. As Lauren Squires noted, you can even get it on a shirt or button.
— lauren (@prof_squires) October 4, 2016
And even though the candidate almost always uses big league in an adverbial fashion, the Trump campaign has also made use of the adjectival form in its #BigLeagueTruth Team, which enlisted supporters to fact-check Hillary Clinton in the debates.
Adjectival big-league is not uncommon, however; it's much harder to find examples of it used adverbially. I've come across big-league used occasionally to modify an adjective, as in this example from Stephen King's 1986 novel It (cited in Green's Dictionary of Slang):
The first time I came in contact with anything that summer that was weird—I mean really big-league weird—was in George's room, with you.
But it's the use of big league as a post-modifier for a verb phrase that is particular to Trump-ese. As Mark Liberman noted, many speakers of American English use big-time in that role, but big league is far less expected. That peculiarity of usage, along with Trump's tendency not to release the final /g/, plays a large part in people perceiving what he says as bigly.
(I had more to say about big league vs. bigly in an NYU panel on political rhetoric on Wednesday, before the final debate — video is here. And for even more on the subject, tune in to NPR's "Weekend All Things Considered" this evening.)
This post presents some stuff I did last March — I thought I had blogged about it but apparently I only put it into these lecture notes. It came up in some discussions today in Shanghai, because I thought that maybe similar visualizations might help explore prosodic differences between the speech of English native speakers and Chinese learners of English. This is going to get a little wonkish, so let's start with a picture:
The idea is to look at the two-dimensional density distribution of the f0 slope (rate of pitch change) and the amplitude slope (rate of loudness change). The speech data for this particular plot comes from the host's side of a 45-minute FreshAir segment,first aired in September of 2014, in which the host Terry Gross interviews Lena Dunham ("Lena Dunham On Sex, Oversharing And Writing About Lost 'Girls'", FreshAir 9/29/2014).
For symmetry, here's the same plot for Lena Dunham's speech in the same interview:
The reason for looking at the bivariate distribution of pitch and amplitude slopes is that rises and falls in amplitude are a pretty good proxy for syllable structure — syllables are typically "sonority peaks".
So those plots are telling us that for both speakers, both pitch and amplitude are falling more often than not, at least in the voiced part of syllables. The preponderance of amplitude falls (in voiced regions) reflects the fact that syllable onsets are generally more abrupt than syllable offsets — there are a smaller number of abrupt rises, and a larger set of more gradual falls. And the preponderance of f0 falls reflects the fact that in American English — or at least in the version of it revealed in this particular interview — local f0 motion is generally falling. In musical terms, English intonation tends to fall by step and rise by leap, just as melodies do in many musical traditions. And therefore at a frame-by-frame scale, negative f0 slopes are much more common than positive ones.
Still, there are some obvious differences in the two women's distributions. And in fact there's a difference between Lena Dunham's speech when she's reading a passage from the book she was promoting, versus her spontaneous conversation elsewhere in the interview:
Now with apologies, here's a slightly wonkish intervention. Anyone who's worked with pitch trackers will be wondering how I can avoid having these plots overwhelmed by noise due to the commonplace scattering of local f0 estimates at the start and end of syllables. For example, here's the f0 track from one fairly typical syllable on Lena Dunham's side of the interview under discussion — f0 is estimated 200 times a second, i.e. every 5 milliseconds:
If we just took the first difference of the f0 estimates, the rates of change estimated for the 20 or so smoothly-varying points would be overwhelmed by estimates from the 17 or so scattered points. One approach would be to apply a linear smoother to the vector of estimates. What I did instead was this:
For each sequence of five consecutive voice frames (i.e. 25 milliseconds), check that the mean frame-to-frame absolute value of the f0 changes is less than 20 Hz. If so, then calculate the regression slope for the amplitude and f0 estimates for those five frames; otherwise, ignore them.
If you're curious, see these lecture notes for some further details.
Another way to get at the same issues would be to look at a density plot of dipole statistics. Here we ask, at every possible time difference between estimated f0 values, what the distribution of f0 differences is. The result is a 3-dimensional plot where one axis is time difference, another axis is f0 difference, and the third one is the relative frequencies of pairs of points with that time difference and pitch difference.
Again we can see that syllable-scale f0 is mostly falling. And we don't need to impose any exclusions on f0 estimates or do any smoothing — the plots are just based on an inventory of all pairs of f0 estimates separated by a given time difference.
From what I've seen of English as spoken by Chinese learners, it seems possible that plots of this kind might help to visualize some of the prosodic differences.
[Note: I'm well aware that "pitch" and "loudness" are psychological terms that are not at all the same as the physical measures of fundamental frequency (f0) and amplitude — I've occasionally used "pitch" and "loudness" in this post, perhaps foolishly, to try to make it more accessible.]
I go to O- House to see how matters come along and to see the Marquess and find how his matters come along. I find him in the library, where, the chimneys having late been swept, a fire is lit, that is indeed somewhat of a necessity at this season. I therefore put down my muff and remove my tippet.
The Marquess remarks that 'tis a finer library than he remember’d, and do I see anything that I should like to peruse, I am entire at liberty to do so and to take it away to read at leisure.
Sure you have found me out, says I, I am a bookish creature. Is there, perchance, some volume upon the Incas I might read?
He replies that his own books are still packt up, but he confides that there will be space here for 'em. And once he has unpackt ‘em, he will go send me some suitable work.
And, says I, I hear you go talk to the antiquarians about the Incas.
Indeed, he says. Should you like a card?
I smile and say, sure I already have one, there is a Fellow of their company sent it me, very civil of him.
He says that there are scholars that know a deal more about the Incas and the other peoples that flourisht before the Spaniards came, but he has acquir’d some fascinating objects and can say a little to the matter that may be unknown more generally.
Now we have exchang’d these civilities, I go tell him about my endeavours to finding servants for his household.
He sighs and says 'tis very good of you, Lady B- - have not been in the habit of keeping an establishment, and would desire to have all in order for my dear Hippolyta.
I take out my memorandum book and say, and that is another thing I must think on, she must have a lady’s maid: for I daresay that Brownlee will remain with her mother and sisters.
(I take a thought that perchance Connolly would be agreeable to leaving her place with the dreadfull crocodile. I do not think Jennie is yet like to be sufficient advanc’d in the mysteries of the profession to be preferr’d.)
He clears his throat and says, he apprehends that Lady Anna is in some concern about going about with her sister during the Season badly dresst, and 'tis yet another imposition, but, do you, Lady B-, have any notion how one might contrive about the matter? Indeed I should like her to enjoy herself.
Why, says I, I have also been somewhat puzzl’d in the matter, but I am in some hopes that when Lord U- returns from his Grand Tour, which cannot be long now, he may be able to bring it about.
Ah, indeed. Very proper.
I go on to remark that he will require a valet himself.
That I think I can come at, says he. There is one of the servants at the club has been tending to my needs in that respect, and has expresst a desire to go into private service.
There is a knock upon the Library door and comes in Hector, saying that the work is coming along better than he anticipat’d, and they understand what they are about.
Is there nothing else that requires attention, says I, perhaps, Your Lordship, you would like come sit in my own cozy parlour with tea, or perchance some exceeding excellent port that I have lately add’d to my cellar, and we might discuss these matters more comfortable.
That would be agreeable, says he.
Hector goes make sure the fire is smother’d, and we go to my own pretty and warm parlour.
The Marquess says that he is sure that my port is quite excellent, but tea would be entire pleasing. 'Tis not the yerba maté that he grew accustom’d to in the Americas, but 'twill serve.
He goes look at my bookshelves, and also scrutinizes my china, Sir Z- R-'s portrait of me in my rubies, and my mementoes of dear General Y-.
Comes in Celeste with tea, crumpets, and parkin.
O, says I, this is quite the feast!
We sit down vis-à-vis by the fire, and the Marquess says, speaking of feasts, he purposes to hold a small dinner-party – of course it cannot yet be at O- House, but he hears good report of the private rooms at M. Duval’s eating house for the quality, do I think that would answer?
Quite exceedingly, says I.
I suppose, he says, could not be arrang’d in time that Admiral K- might be among my guests.
Does he go to Harrogate to see Lady J-, by the time he returns I am like to suppose that the Admiralty will have his orders and he will be off post-haste.
Excellent fellow that he is! says the Marquess. Tho’ sure I was very surpriz’d to hear that he had marry’d Lady J- - tho’ one apprehends that she is a most excellent woman –
- but when I was with him in the West Indies, he spoke a good deal of the finest woman in the realm or out of it, and I suppos’d that did he marry, 'twould be to her; that is, to you.
Oh, I have quite the greatest fondness for the Admiral, it is a most antient affection, but I could not think that marriage would answer. I am a sad timid creature –
That is not the character you are given at R- House!
- the flattering weasels – and I confide would not do well on shipboard. Nor do I have the talents that would serve in managing the fine property he inherit’d: whereas Lady J- has a fine hand for such matters. They are remarkable well-suit’d, and I daresay you will have heard the very romantick tale of their meeting when he was a poor young lieutenant?
The Admiral mention’d, says I (for I am a true daughter of Eve and rul’d by curiosity), that he was of an impression that you had suffer’d some tragedy of the heart while you were in the Spanish Americas?
The Marquess looks into the fire and says, somewhat of the sort, and that was indeed why I was like to take a prudential approach to matrimony, because I thought that I could not feel such emotion again –
- but sure I was wrong!
There is somewhat of a pause, and he says, 'twas an episode quite like unto some novel. While I was about plant-hunting, I was attackt by some venomous creature – did not even see what 'twas – became quite delirious and indeed do not recall how I got there, but I stagger’d onto some remote estancia, and the fellow who own’d it took me in, and had me nurs’d by his servants until I recover’d.
And gradually I came back to health, and naturally I was exceeding gratefull to him for this care.
He had a daughter – his only child – what they call in those parts mestizo, for her mother had been his Indian mistress, and he quite greatly doat’d upon her, and had considerable concerns about what would be like to happen to her did he dye.
While he was a fellow in the prime of life, he had some affliction of the heart that was fear’d might take him off quite sudden. He desir’d to leave his fine property to her, but her sex, her mingl’d race and her illegitimacy he fear’d would bring her great problems did she not have a trustworthy man to stand by her. He had also, I know not how, gain’d a very elevat’d notion of the character of an Englishman, and I was, as 'twere, an answer to prayer.
And indeed, his daughter – Inès – was a very fine creature, tho’ of course I was not permitt’d to see much of her at first.
I should perhaps mention, he goes on, that I happen’d to be carrying certain documents with me, that could have caus’d a deal of trouble both for those who sent them and those to whom I took 'em, did they fall into the wrong hands. And when I had come to myself, I found that the package had not been restor’d to me along with my clothes and such possessions as I had not lost during my delirium.
I do not think Don Hernando – that was his name – had any leanings to any side in the conflicts then raging – his estancia was indeed remote and he may have thought that 'twas all a storm that would blow over and not touch him. But he quite apprehend’d that these documents were a very persuasive business for me. Without ever being direct, he indicat’d that did I marry the fair Inès, I might then proceed upon my journey with 'em, with the understanding that I would return.
So I agreed. 'Twould take some time for the business to be put in hand, and once we were formally affianc’d, I was able to have some communication with Inès – we would ride out together, for example, attend’d by a groom. I became increasingly prepossesst with her: she had had education at the hands of nuns and was an intelligent inform’d young woman, rode most exceeding well, could shoot -
But as we grew to know one another, I came to understand that she was perhaps even more reluctant for this match than I had been, and at length I discover’d that she had a passionate desire to become a nun, a desire encourag’d by the Mother Superior of the convent wherein she was educat’d. Did she manage to get herself within their walls, they had a deal of influence to keep her there and obtain any dispensations necessary for her to take the veil.
She said she would go extract my package from where her father had conceal’d it, would I accompany her to the convent. She had allies in the household would provide us with horses, supplies, &C.
By this time I had an entire passionate admiration for her, but I could see that altho’ I think she felt a friendship for me, 'twas not love, and her devotion was given to her vocation.
So – o, there were alarums and excursions, but I deliver’d her to the convent, made my own escape, deliver’d my package to those it was destin’d for –
And once a year, he continues, Sor Catarina, that she is now nam’d, writes me a letter.
I sigh and say sure 'tis a most romantick tale.
But, he says, I find another and different romantick tale has come to me.