Trump has now scandalized people by using a Yiddish expression to describe what happened to Hillary Clinton at the hands of the Obama forces back in 2008:
She was favored to win and she got schlonged, she lost.
Now, for those of you who aren’t especially up on Yiddish, “schlong” is one of the many Yiddish words used to describe the male member, as in genitalia. I won’t bother to list the others; you can probably do it yourself. But, even as an ex-New Yorker, although I’m familiar with the word, I can’t ever recall it being used as a verb before—which is the way Trump is using it here, as an equivalent of “screwed.”
Not only that, but it’s not the first time Trump has turned the noun into a verb:
The business mogul and Republican front-runner has also used the term “schlonged” before, saying in a 2011 interview with the Washington Post, “I watched a popular Republican woman [Jane Corwin] not only lose but get schlonged by a Democrat [Kathy Hochul] nobody ever heard of for the congressional seat and that was because, simply, because of the Paul Ryan plan.”
I’m not the only one curious about this usage; here’s a WaPo article that looks at “schlonged” from a linguistic point of view:
Trump’s problem? He’s a gentile who, linguistically, may have wandered too far from home.
“Many goyim are confused by the large number of Yiddish terms beginning with ‘schl’ or ‘schm’ (schlemiel, schlemazzle, schmeggegge, schlub, schlock, schlep, schmutz, schnook), and use them incorrectly or interchangeably,” [Steven Pinker] wrote. “And headline writers often ransack the language for onomatopoeic synonyms for ‘defeat’ such as drub, whomp, thump, wallop, whack, trounce, clobber, smash, trample, and Obama’s own favorite, shellac (which in fact sounds a bit like schlong). So an alternative explanation is that Trump reached for what he thought was a Yinglish word for ‘beat’ and inadvertently coined an obscene one.”
That was actually the first possibility that occurred to me. It made me think of the time when, as an 8-year-old, I called my 11-year-old brother a “slut.” I thought it sounded suitably nasty—slippery and slimy, like a sort of slug—and was surprised when he burst out laughing and then explained to me what the word actually meant (which I didn’t quite understand even after the explanation).
But that’s probably not what’s going on with Trump and “schlonged.” Trump moves in New York circles where he’s probably been schooled in many of the finer points of Yiddish—if not the language itself as a whole, then its more colorful expressions. In fact, Trump tweeted a response to his critics in which he claimed that the usage was common:
When I said that Hillary Clinton got schlonged by Obama, it meant got beaten badly. The media knows this. Often used word in politics!
However, the verb form of schlong—“schlonged”—is actually a rare construction, although not quite a Trump neologism:
Nexis notes just seven uses of “schlonged.” Two were Trump’s recent jab at Clinton; one referenced a “long-schlonged” reality TV star; one appeared in an obituary for Philip Seymour Hoffman, noting the actor’s role as a “gauche gay boom operator with a crush on [a] long-schlonged superstar” in the film “Boogie Nights”; another appeared in an article about the HBO show “Hung”; and another in the transcript of an episode of Comedy Central’s long-canceled “The Man Show.”
Only one use of “schlonged” as a verb came from a respected political source. In 2011, NPR’s Neal Conan made this observation (to The Post’s Chris Cillizza) on the 1984 Walter Mondale/Geraldine Ferraro campaign: “That ticket went on to get schlonged at the polls.”
NPR; who would have guessed?
On the other hand, it is quite common to turn a noun into a verb, such as “Google” to “Googled.”
Trump’s use of the word “schlonged” has been widely condemned, of course. It’s supposedly sexist, it’s vulgar, it’s a colorful and idiosyncratic use of language, it’s New Yorkese, it’s all the things that Trump’s detractors hate about him and his supporters know and love.
Oh, and I note that it has us talking about him again. In this case, talking about his talk.
[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]DONATE
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