People have pointed out numerous spelling and grammatical errors connected to President Donald Trump’s administration. From misspelling “honored” in one of his first tweets after his swearing in, to someone using the wrong “too” in his inauguration print, to the Department of Education spelling the name of W.E.B. Du Bois wrong – the errors have given what Trump refers to as his “haters” plenty of ammunition.
Trump isn’t the first president to have issues with spelling. George Washington and John F. Kennedy were notoriously bad spellers. Andrew Jackson – whose portrait Trump chose to hang in his Oval Office – was once criticized by rival John Quincy Adams as a “savage who can scarcely spell his own name,” and Jackson’s retort was, “It’s a damn poor mind that can think of only one way to spell a word.”
But the question remains, who is actually bothered by the Trump administration’s spelling errors, and why?
Millennials are the population most bothered by grammatical errors, according to a survey by Harris poll for Dictionary.com’s Grammar Gripes 2015. The survey of 2,052 Americans age 18 and older found 74 percent of people between 18 and 34 were irritated when they found a mistake on social media, and 65 percent said improper grammar was their biggest pet peeve.
Millennials are also more likely to correct those who make a mistake, with 63 percent saying they correct their family and friends, compared to 47 percent of adults between 35 and 44 who said the same.
Women both tend to believe they are better spellers and are more bothered by errors than men, according to the survey results. Among females surveyed, 75 percent said they often find spelling errors, compared with 66 percent of men. About 62 percent of women said they “strongly/somewhat agree” that improper grammar is their biggest annoyance, while 55 percent of men said the same.
Studies show that when people see errors on official correspondence or websites it has a real effect on their perception – which translates into real money. A 2011 analysis of business websites found a single spelling mistake could cut online sales in half. The author of that study, Charles Duncombe, who runs travel, mobile phones and clothing websites, says errors undermine the credibility of the website, which makes people trust the business less.
“You get about six seconds to capture the attention on a website,” Duncombe told the BBC.
A University of Michigan study with a fairly low sample size of 83 people found introverts and less-agreeable people were more likely to notice and point out spelling errors than more-agreeable extroverts.
In a similar vein, Penelope Trunk, a career advice columnist, said some people meticulous about grammar could actually suffer from perfectionism, which she classifies as a disorder.
“Perfectionists are more likely to be depressed than other people because no amount of work seems like enough. They are more likely to be unhappy with their work because delegating is nearly impossible if you are a perfectionist,” Trunk wrote on her blog. “And they are more likely to have social problems because people mired in details cannot look up and notice the nuances of what matters to other people.”
Whatever their reasons, users of Trump’s favorite social medium have turned correcting his errors into a spectator sport.