The word is out of joint; O cursed spite, that ever I was born to set it right. But I really must try, for on Monday night Donald Trump said that Hillary Clinton “got schlonged” by Barack Obama in the 2008 Democrat primary, and the media is beside itself once again.
Justin Wm. Moyer, one of the children who writes for the Washington Post, thought the matter to be of such great import that he launched “A Linguistic Investigation” to find out what, exactly, Trump meant. First, though, he tried to find out what, exactly, Hillary Clinton was, and concluded that she was a “former first lady, former U.S. senator, former Secretary of State, woman.” Woman? He needed to tell us that?
I’ve not read anything by Justin before, but I can assure you that he did some very serious research into the meaning of the word “schlong.” First, he contacted Steven Pinker, a Harvard scholar specializing in linguistics, cognition, and evolutionary biology. From Pinker, Justin learned that the term “comes to the English language via Yiddish and Middle High German.” Middle High German? Is that like the world’s tallest short person?
From ThinkProgress, Justin learned that “‘Schlong’ is a well-known reference to a man’s genitals.” Actually folks, it means “snake” in Yiddish, and is often colloquially used as a synonym for “penis” for reasons that would be clear to anyone familiar with Sigmund Freud. So one might say, “He thinks with his schlong rather than with his brain.”
But in that case, “schlong” is used as a noun, and here we have Trump using it as a verb: Hillary got schlonged by Barack Obama in the 2008 primary. And so Justin felt obliged to consult the Post’s grammarian, Jenna Johnson. From Jenna, Justin learned that Trump had turned a noun into a verb and then, turning to the Oxford University Press, Justin learned that “‘verbing’ …has been around for as long as the English language itself.” You know, the way “bat” became “batting.” So Trump was simply availing himself of an old and venerable tradition.
Trump was merely saying the obvious, albeit in a colorful fashion. Hillary Clinton, former first lady, etc. managed to lose the ’08 primary to the unknown and politically inexperienced Barak Obama. And she lost so badly one might reasonably say she got “shellacked.” Or, she got “schlonged.” You get the picture: she got screwed by Obama.
That wasn’t hard to figure out, was it? So what’s everyone so excited about? The association of snakes with the male member is not uncommon in our culture. Back in 1992, rapper Sir Mix A Lot’s “Baby Got Back” was the second best selling song in the U.S. When he sang “My anaconda don’t want none/Unless you’ve got buns, hon,” everyone got that Sir Mix A Lot could not be turned on by a lady who didn’t have a fairly decent-sized booty.
We could turn “anaconda” into a verb and say that Hillary “got anaconda’d” by Obama. And she’ll probably get anaconda’d by Trump or Marco Rubio or whoever turns out to be the Republican presidential nominee.
In fact, Marco would have been able to make the appropriate associations straightaway, for Marco loves hip hop and is a huge fan of Niki Minaj. As he told TMZ, “She’s very talented.”
As Minaj’s huge hit song “Anaconda” borrows from “Baby Got Back,” TMZ wondered if a live performance of “Anaconda” might be forthcoming at a Rubio inaugural. Or a Trump inaugural, perhaps?
Clearly, Harvard’s Steven Pinker did not need to get involved in this inquiry, but he nevertheless did get involved and he managed to complicate things by suggesting that Trump was reaching for the Yiddish term for “defeat” and got it wrong. As Jason so charmingly puts it, “Trump’s problem? He’s a gentile who, linguistically, may have wandered too far from home.”
Too far from home? Donald Trump grew up in New York where a lot of Jews also live. He’s been a real estate developer for years and must have done business with a lot of Jewish developers. And he’s got two sets of in-laws who are Jewish. Trump’s daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism when she got married several years ago, and one of his sons recently married a Jewish woman. (Trump’s other son is married to a Catholic, and so is irrelevant for purposes of this inquiry.) As always, Trump knew exactly what he was saying.
But Jason’s research was not yet finished, and he turned next to Nexis to find out if and when “schlong” as a verb had been used before. Nexis is a sophisticated database and turned up several instances, including an observation made back in 2011 by NPR’s Neal Conan 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? But NPR represents the height of sobriety and seriousness. Or, as Jason would have it, “a respected political source.” And if “schlonged” can be used by a “respected” source to describe what happened to a male/female presidential ticket, it can’t be considered sexist, can it? Of course not. NPR would never use a sexist term.
Then there’s Howard Dean, who told Chris Matthews that George Bush couldn’t “hide the salami” in nominating Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Was Howard being sexist? You’d think a doctor would know what that meant, but Howard’s from Vermont so you never know. The nomination went nowhere, and that’s when CBS chief White House correspondent John Roberts asked if Samuel Alito was “sloppy seconds.” Sexist? To his credit, Roberts later apologized. He had been thinking of Anthony Weiner.
No wonder The Post is becoming irrelevant. It searches for serious answers to idiotic questions that any of its readers could answer. Jeff Bezos needs to become more hands-on at the Post. Before its Millennials unwittingly turn it into the Onion.