Did Trump Say ‘Bigly’ or ‘Big League’? The Phoneticians Have Spoken

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By Masha Froliak | 10:37 pm, October 20, 2016


After the final presidential debate on October 19, there was a lot of reaction over Donald Trump’s apparent use of the word “bigly.”

“Bigly” was on top of Google search all day Thursday, and some thought it is going to be the next “yuuuge”.

However, many wondered if Trump actually said “big league”. Both are real words if you look them up in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, but “big league”, Webster points out, is rarely used as an adverb.

And “bigly” just sounds dumber.

So did Trump say “big league” or “bigly”? Some of those wondering were actually trained linguists–one of whom, at the University of California, decided to decide the matter, once and for all.

Susan Lin of Berkeley analyzed Trump’s speech  patterns , discovering the presence of a “velar pinch” at the end of some of his phrases. A velar pinch is a linguistic term for the lip movement that produces a “g” sound. Based on the existence of this velar pinch, Lin concluded that Trump was in fact saying “big league”.

Others linguists seemed to have agreed with Lin’s findings.