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insight by wfx

Welcome to Wordwide FX's new enterprise!

Insight by WFX is a synthesis of our passion for languages and the financial markets. Here you will find technical and fundamental analyses from our clients, media partners and contributors in different languages, as well as discussions on languages and translation. And of course we will keep you updated on what is happening inside Wordwide FX Financial Translations. Hope you enjoy it! Greetings from the Wordwide FX team!

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21/05/2019

The World’s Most Efficient Languages

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By Wordwide FX Financial Translations

Via The Atlantic.com

By John McWhorter

How much do you really need to say to put a sentence together?

Just as fish presumably don’t know they’re wet, many English speakers don’t know that the way their language works is just one of endless ways it could have come out. It’s easy to think that what one’s native language puts words to, and how, reflects the fundamentals of reality.

But languages are strikingly different in the level of detail they require a speaker to provide in order to put a sentence together. In English, for example, here’s a simple sentence that comes to my mind for rather specific reasons related to having small children: “The father said ‘Come here!’” This statement specifies that there is a father, that he conducted the action of speaking in the past, and that he indicated the child should approach him at the location “here.” What else would a language need to do?

Well, for a German speaker, more. In “Der Vater sagte ‘Komm her!’”, although it just seems like a variation on the English sentence, more is happening. “Der,” the word for “the,” is a choice among other possibilities: It’s the one used for masculine nouns only. If the sentence were about a mother, it would have to use the feminine die, or if about a girl, the neuter das (for reasons unnecessary to broach here!). The word for “said,” sagte, is marked with a suffix for the third-person singular; if it were “you said,” then it would be sagtest—in English, those forms don’t vary in the past tense. Then, her for “here” means “to here”: In German one must become what feels to an English speaker rather Shakespearean and say “hither” when that’s what is meant. “Here” in the sense of just sitting “here” is a different word, hier.

This German sentence, then, requires you to pay more attention to the genders of people and things, to whether it’s me, you, her, him, us, y’all, or them driving the action. It also requires specifying not just where someone is but whether that person is moving closer or farther away. German is, overall, busier than English, and yet Germans feel their way of putting things is as normal as English speakers feel their way is.

Other languages occupy still other places on the linguistic axis of “busyness,” from prolix to laconic, and it’s surprising what a language can do without. In Mandarin Chinese, a way of saying “The father said ‘Come here!’” is “Fùqīn shuō ‘Guò lái zhè lǐ!’” Just as in English, there is no marker for the father’s gender, nor does the form of the word shuō for “said” indicate whether the speaker is me, you, or him. The word for “here,” zhè lǐ, can mean either “right here” or “to here,” just like in English. But Mandarin is even more telegraphic. There is no definite article like “the.” The word for “said” lacks not only a suffix for person, but is also not marked for tense; it just means “say.” It is assumed that context will indicate that this event happened in the past. Much of learning Mandarin involves getting a sense of how much one can not say in an acceptable sentence.

Moreover, anyone who has sampled Chinese, or Persian, or Finnish, knows that a language can get along just fine with the same word for “he” and “she.”* And whereas Mandarin can mark tense but often doesn’t, in the Maybrat language of New Guinea, there’s pretty much no way to mark it at all—context takes care of it and no one bats an eye.
If there were a prize for the busiest language, then a language like Kabardian, also known as Circassian and spoken in the Caucasus, would win. In the simple sentence “The men saw me,” the word for “saw” is sǝq’ayǝƛaaɣwǝaɣhaś (pronounced roughly “suck-a-LAGH-a-HESH”). This seems like a majestic monster of a word, and yet despite its air of “supercalifragilisticexpealidocious,” the word for “saw” is every bit as ordinary for Karbadian-speakers as English-speakers’ “saw” is for them. It’s just that Karbadian-speakers have to pack so much more into their version. In sǝq’ayǝƛaaɣwǝaɣhaś, other than the part meaning “see,” there is a bit that reiterates that it’s me who was seen, even though the sentence would include a separate word for “me” elsewhere. Then there are other bits that show that the seeing was most significant to “me” rather than to the men or anyone else; that the seeing was done by more than one person (despite the sentence spelling out elsewhere that it was plural “men” who did the seeing); that this event did not happen in the present; that on top of this, the event happened specifically in the past rather than the future; and finally a bit indicating that the speaker really means what he’s saying.

The prize for most economical language could go to certain colloquial dialects of Indonesian that are rarely written but represent the daily reality of Indonesian in millions of mouths. For example, in the Riau dialect spoken in Sumatra, ayam means chicken and makan means eat, but “Ayam makan” doesn’t mean only “The chicken is eating.” Depending on context, “Ayam makan” can mean the “chickens are eating,” “a chicken is eating,” “the chicken is eating,” “the chicken will be eating,” “the chicken eats,” “the chicken has eaten,” “someone is eating the chicken,” “someone is eating for the chicken,” “someone is eating with the chicken,” “the chicken that is eating,” “where the chicken is eating,” and “when the chicken is eating.” If chickens and eating are à propos, the assumption is that everybody in the conversation knows what’s what. Thus for a wide variety of situations the equivalent of “chicken eat” will do—and does.

So does the contrast between Riau Indonesian’s “chicken eat” and Kabardian’s “they saw me and it affected me, not now, and I really mean it” mean that each language gives its speakers a different way of looking at the world? It’s an intriguing idea, first formulated by anthropologist and linguist Edward Sapir and amateur linguist (and fire inspector!) Benjamin Whorf. If it were correct, an English-speaker would generally think about the past more than a Chinese-speaker would, while Germans would think more about movement than Americans or Brits.

Experiments have shown that this is often true to a faint, flickering degree a psychologist can detect in the artifice of experimental conditions. But does this mean a different way of experiencing life? Is a Kabardian shopkeeper in the Caucasus more exquisitely attuned to the nuances of experience than a Riau Indonesian-speaking fisherman in Sumatra? If that Kabardian shopkeeper’s jam-packed verbs mean that he vibrates in tune to the jots and tittles of life, then doesn’t one have to say that the Riau Indonesian speaker, whose grammar directs his attention to so few details, is something of a limp string on the guitar? We would run into similarly hopeless comparisons around the world. The Zulu speaker would be hypervigilant given the complexities of his language, the Samoan speaker inattendant given the less obsessively complicated nature of hers.

If thought and culture aren’t why some languages pile it on while others take it light, then what is the reason? Part of the answer is unsatisfying but powerful: chance. Time and repetition wear words out, and what wears away is often a nugget of meaning. This happens in some languages more than others. Think of the French song “Alouette, gentille alouette …” (“lark, nice lark”) in which one sings “ahh-loo-eh-tuh.” In running speech the word has long been pronounced just “ah-loo-ett” with no -uh at the end. That –uh in the song today is a leftover from the way the word actually was once pronounced normally, and it indicated the word’s feminine gender to the listener. Today, beyond marginal contexts like that song, only the final e in the spelling of alouette indicates its gender; hearing it in a sentence we’d have to rely on the definite article la alone to know that the word is feminine.
In a language where final sounds take the accent, such sounds tend to hold on longer because they are so loud and clear—you’re less likely to mumble it and people listening are more likely to hear it. In Hebrew, “Thank you very much,” is “Toda raba,” pronounced “toe-DAH rah-BAH.” The sounds at the end of the word mark gender in Hebrew, too, and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon because they are enunciated with force.

When a language seems especially telegraphic, usually another factor has come into play: Enough adults learned it at a certain stage in its history that, given the difficulty of learning a new language after childhood, it became a kind of stripped-down “schoolroom” version of itself. Because all languages, are, to some extent, busier than they need to be, this streamlining leaves the language thoroughly complex and nuanced, just lighter on the bric-a-brac that so many languages pant under. Even today, Indonesian is a first language to only one in four of its speakers; the language has been used for many centuries as a lingua franca in a vast region, imposed on speakers of several hundred languages. This means that while other languages can be like overgrown lawns, Indonesian’s grammar has been regularly mowed, such that especially the colloquial forms are tidier. Lots of adult learning over long periods of time is also why, for example, the colloquial forms of Arabic like Egyptian and Moroccan are somewhat less elaborated than Modern Standard Arabic—they were imposed on new people as Islam spread after the seventh century.

In contrast, one cannot help suspecting that not too many adults have been tackling the likes of sǝq’ayǝƛaaɣwǝaɣhaś. Kabardian has been left to its own devices, and my, has it hoarded a lot of them. This is, as languages go, normal, even if Kabardian is rather extreme. By contrast, only a few languages have been taken up as vehicles of empire and imposed on millions of unsuspecting and underqualified adults. Long-dominant Mandarin, then, is less “busy” than Cantonese and Taiwanese, which have been imposed on fewer people. English came out the way it did because Vikings, who in the first millennium forged something of an empire of their own in northern and western Europe, imposed themselves on the Old English of the people they invaded and, as it were, mowed it. German, meanwhile, stayed “normal.”

Even if languages’ differences in busyness can’t be taken as windows on psychological alertness, the differences remain awesome. In a Native American language of California called Atsugewi (now extinct), if a tree was burned and we found the ashes in a creek afterward, we would have said that soot w’oqhputíc’ta into the creek. W’oqhputíc’ta is a conglomeration of bits that mean “it moved like dirt, in a falling fashion, into liquid, and for real.” In English, we would just say “flowed.”
 

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07/05/2019

Nuevos mínimos de sesión para la GBPUSD: desconfianza por el Brexit

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By Greg Michalowski @GregMikeFX, Director of Client Education at ForexLive. Translated by Wordwide FX Financial Translations

La GBPUSD se opera hoy en nuevos mínimos de sesión. Hay cada vez menos confianza en la primera ministra y en el proceso interno que sacará al Reino Unido de la Unión Europea.

Desde el punto de vista técnico, el par ha tratado hoy de escalar durante la sesión asiática, pero tras superar la zona de 1,3110-22, se ha detenido cerca del máximo swing del 12 de abril en 1,3132  Luego, el par perdió terreno y cayó bajo 1,3100, el mínimo de ayer y el máximo del 2 de mayo en 1,3079-81 (ver círculos rojos), y la MM de 100 horas en 1,3007.

Ahora, el par corrigió un 38,2% de la escalada que arrancó en el mínimo del 24 de abril en 1,3057, zona de profit takers. Y allí se ha detenido el precio - al menos eso parece.

El siguiente riesgo para los cortos es la MM de 100 horas y el mínimo de ayer en 1,3077-81. Yo esperaría que los vendedores se apoyen en esta zona o que realizaran una acción de corrección durante esta mañana de la sesión de Nueva York. 

Si crece el impulso bajista que lleva al par a superar el 38,2%, los objetivos serán el máximo del 3 de mayo en 1,30428 y el retroceso del 50’% de la acción que se inició el 24 de abril en 1,30203.

Los compradores han tenido una buena oportunidad hace unas horas, pero el precio terminó por estancarse. Los vendedores bajo la MM de 100 horas notan que tienen el control mientras el par regresa a la zona de la semana pasada, antes de iniciarse la remontada.

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22/03/2019

"Lenten ys come with love to toune..."

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By Wordwide FX Financial Translations

Yesterday in the Northern hemisphere we waved so long to winter and welcomed spring. at least in countries using the astronomical and solar reckoning, because in others countries, like Sweden, the beginning of spring is defined as the first occasion when the average daytime temperature exceeds zero degrees for seven consecutive days, so typically spring comes later in the north than in the south.

In early medieval Engand the usual word for this season was "Lenten", a word that comes from the shortening of "lengthing days" and which Dutch still keeps ("lente"). The word "spring", that didn't catch on until the 16th century, is related to the verb "spring", which in English means "to move or jump suddenly" and in Swedish it means "to run" ("springa"). If you have ever felt that in this season everything seems to move faster, the Germanic languages had already captured this feeling from the very beginning.  

In Old English the word was "springan", meaning "to leap, burst forth, fly up; spread, grow", and further back, in the protolanguage shared by all Germanic tribes, the word was *sprengan (the asterisk means it is a reconstructed form), source also of Old Norse and Old Frisian springa, Middle Dutch springhen, Old High German springan, and German springen). We can even trace the origin to the times of Indoeuropean with the form *sprengh, meaning "to move, hasten, spring", source also of Sanskrit sprhayati "desires eagerly" and Greek sperkhesthai "to hurry".

In other languages, the season name is related to the word "fore" or "early", like in German Frühling (from Middle German vrueje, "early",) or in Swedish "vår" ("before", related to Dutch "voorjaar", literally "fore-year".

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06/03/2019

Hey, America: Y’all need to start saying y’all, linguist says

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By Wordwide FX Financial Translations

Via ai.com

By Greg Garrison

Across America, it’s becoming increasingly common to hear the use of the Southern contraction “Y’all,” a linguistic fusion of the words “you” and “all.”

It may be partly because of the spread of Southern influence nationwide, but it also fills an important need in the English language, said Southern linguist Thomas Nunnally.

“It’s being adopted all over the country, because it needs to be,” said Nunnally, a retired professor of linguistics at Auburn University who spoke at Samford University on Thursday. Nunnally is editor and co-author of “Speaking of Alabama: The History, Diversity, Function and Change of Language,” published by the University of Alabama Press. 

Linguists have noted that “y’all” addresses a gap in the English language left behind by the disappearance of the pronoun “ye,” the second person plural form of the pronoun “thou,” both of which have become stilted, archaic and fallen out of use.

The English language now generally uses the pronoun “you” to function as both singular and plural.

Regional adaptations include “youse” or “Youse guys” in the Northeast; “yunz” or “yinz” in Pittsburgh; the Midwestern “You’nes” a contraction of “you-ones,” or the upper Southern “You all.”

The phrase “you guys” fills the function, but can be seen as uncomfortable because of the masculine word guys.

Nunnally recalls he and his wife being addressed as “you guys,” and he took exception.

“To call my wife a guy, I was aghast,” he said.

Other variations seem to Southern ears to be inadequate.

But the spread of “y’all” shows its appeal and functionality.

“Y’all does it nicely and concisely,” Nunnally said.

“Y’all” is also part of Africa-American Vernacular English, which derives from black language in the South, so musical artists in rap, hip-hop and the larger entertainment culture can play a role in helping its spread.

“Y’all” can also be used in addressing one person, to politely include others, such as in the phrase, “How y’all doing?”

 

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31/01/2019

The Widely-Spoken Languages We Still Cannot Translate Online

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By Wordwide FX Financial Translations

Via wired.com

IN THE INTERNET age, when we face a language barrier, there are a host of internet resources to solve it: things like translation apps, dictionary websites, versions of Wikipediain other languages, and the simple "click to translate" option. But there are about 7000 languages spoken in the world today. The top 10 or so are spoken by hundred of millions of speakers; the bottom third have 1000 speakers or fewer.

But in the murky middle ground are a couple hundred languages that are spoken by speakers in millions. These midsize languages are still fairly widely spoken, but they have vastly inconsistent levels of support online. There’s Swedish, which has 9.6 million speakers, the third-largest Wikipedia with over 3 million articles, and support in Google Translate, Bing Translate, Facebook, Siri, YouTube captions, and so on. But there’s also Odia, the official language of the Odisha state in India, with 38 million speakers, which has no presence in Google Translate. And Oromo, a language spoken by some 34 million people, mostly in Ethiopia, which has just 772 articles in its Wikipedia.

Why do Greek, Czech, Hungarian, and Swedish, with their 8 to 13 million speakers, have Google Translate support and robust Wikipedia presences, while languages the same size or larger, like Bhojpuri (51 million), Fula (24 million), Sylheti (11 million), Quechua (9 million), and Kirundi (9 million) languish in technological obscurity?

Part of the reason is that Greek, Czech, Hungarian, and Swedish are among the 24 official languages of the European Union, which means that a small hoard of human translators translate many official European Parliament documents every year. Human-translated documents make a great base for what linguists call a parallel corpus — a large mass of text that's equivalent, sentence-by-sentence, in multiple languages. Machine translation engines use parallel corpora to figure out regular correspondences between languages: if "regering" or "κυβέρνηση" or "kormány" or "vláda" all frequently appear in parallel to "government," then the machine concludes these words are equivalent.

In order to be reasonably effective, machine translation requires an enormous parallel corpus for each language. Ideally, this corpus contains documents from a variety of genres: not just parliamentary proceedings but news reports, novels, film scripts, and so on. The machine can't translate informal social media posts very well if it's been trained only on formal legal documents. Translation tools are already scraping the bottom of the parallel corpus barrel: In many languages, the largest parallel translated text is the Bible, which leads to peculiar circumstances where Google translates nonsense syllables into prophecies of doom.

In addition to EU documents, Swedish, Greek, Hungarian, and Czech have a wealth of language resources, created one human at a time over centuries. They're the languages of entire nation-states, with national TV and radio recordings that can be used as the foundation for text-to-speech models. Their speakers have the kind of disposable income that makes media companies translate popular novels and subtitle foreign movies and TV shows. They're found in countries that tech companies imagine their customers might be living in or might at least visit on holiday, meaning it's worth localizing interfaces and adding them as translation options. They have regularized spelling systems and dictionaries that can be rolled into spellcheckers and predictive text models. They have highly literate speakers with internet access who can contribute to projects like Wikipedia. (Speakers who can even, in the case of Swedish, create a bot to automatically make basic Wikipedia articles for rivers, mountains, and other natural features.)

Language resources don't just appear. People have to decide to create them, and those people need to be fed and watered and educated and housed and supported, whether that's by governments or by companies or by the kind of personal wealth that lets individuals take on time-consuming intellectual hobbies. Creating parallel corpora and other language resources takes years, if it happens at all, and costtens of millions of dollars per language.

Meanwhile, we know that catastrophes periodically happen around the world: earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, cyclones, diseases, famines, fires. Some of them will happen in areas where people speak a large, well-resourced language, and organizations will rush to their aid. But the odds are goodthat some of the world's future crises will happen in areas where people speak one of these medium-size but low-resource languages. In those cases, aid organizations and governments will face an urgent language barrier.

The problem is, we don't know which language will desperately need the world's attention next. When an earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, international organizations suddenly required Haitian Creole resources. Ebola outbreaks in West Africa affected speakers of languages like Swahili, Nande, Mbuba, Krio, Mende and Themne. Asylum seekers from Central America often speak languages like Zapotec, Q’anjob’al, K'iche' and Mam. These speakers aren't the ideal customers of big tech companies. They don't have leisure time to edit Wikipedia. They may not even be literate in their mother tongue, communicating by voice memoinstead of by text message. But when a crisis hits, internet communication tools will be crucial.

Researchers at Darpa, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, decided to tackle the problem by rethinking the way we translate languages. Instead of creating language-specific tools, Darpa is attempting to build language-agnostic tools that, once created, could spring into action in times of crisis and be tuned to any language with minor tweaking — even if they have just monolingual text scraped from social media rather than carefully translated parallel corpora.

They also changed their goals. It's too hard to jump right to full-blown machine translators that produce idiomatic prose, according to Dr. Boyan Onyshkevych, program manager at Darpa's Information Innovation Office. Instead, they carve out more manageable tasks, such as linking all the proper nouns in a passage with their equivalents in a more widely-spoken language. Automatically identifying entities in this way can help provide clues about the overall situation — say, which rivers are flooding, which villages are affected by an outbreak, or which people are missing.

Darpa funds researchers year-round at a couple dozen universities and companies; then, twice a year, they test them, in a "linguistic crisis simulation" event, where teams of researchers translate imaginary catastrophe reports in a surprise mystery language. For the first round, the teams have 24 hours to figure out as much useful information as possible from social media, blogs, and news reports, with the help of a few resources like a basic dictionary and an hour of time with a native speaker of the language. Then Darpa adds in more social media data and more time with a speaker, and the teams go at it again. Later, the results and data sets from such simulations are often published online so they can eventually be rolled into tools like Siri and Google Translate.

Methods like these use the resources of the internet age to solve the problems of the internet age. Smaller languages may not have extensive books or parliamentary records to train a language processor; they may not have very many professional translators. But they do have thousands or millions of speakers hanging out on social media and posting, like all of us do, about the weather and what they had for lunch. These posters are potentially sowing the seeds of their own survival, should catastrophe strike — their tweets and blog posts could get scooped up to teach the rest of the world how to help.

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02/10/2018

Trump has turned words into weapons. And he's winning the linguistic war

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By Wordwide FX Financial Translations

Via The Guardian

From ‘spygate’ to ‘fake news’, Trump is using language to frame – and win – debates. And the press operate like his marketing agency

Donald Trump has been a salesman for nearly half a century. He is now selling himself, his worldview and his self-serving views of the law and the truth. His principal tools are language and the media. By faithfully transmitting Trump’s words and ideas, the press helps him to attack, and thereby control, the press itself.

Trump knows the press has a strong instinct to repeat his most outrageous claims, and this allows him put the press to work as a marketing agency for his ideas. His lies reach millions of people through constant repetition in the press and social media. This poses an existential threat to democracy. 

Language works by activating brain structures called “frame-circuits” used to understand experience. They get stronger when we hear the activating language. Enough repetition can make them permanent, changing how we view the world.

Even negating a frame-circuit activates and strengthens it, as when Nixon said “I am not a crook” and people thought of him as a crook.

Scientists, marketers, advertisers and salespeople understand these principles. So do Russian and Islamic State hackers. But most reporters and editors clearly don’t. So the press is at a disadvantage when dealing with a super salesman with an instinctive ability to manipulate thought by 1) framing first 2) repeating often, and 3) leading others to repeat his words by getting people to attack him within his own frame. 

Language can shape the way we think. Trump knows this. Here are some of his favorite manipulation techniques.

First, he weaponizes words. The modifier “crooked” convicted Hillary Clinton without a trial. The media’s constant repetition sealed the verdict. “Fake news” proclaims that the news is fake. The use of “fake” is designed to delegitimize the press itself. Trump also uses strategic name-calling to undermine the Russia investigation, tagging it as a “witch-hunt” by the “deep state” in an attempt to shift blame. It’s false, but when the press repeats it, his narrative wins.

The media perpetuated a Trump lie by repeating “spygate”, which falsely characterized the FBI informant as a spy. Once made, such a mistake by the press is hard to correct.

A possible immediate correction might have been to use “RussianSpyGate,” repeatedly focusing on the Russian contacts of Trump’s campaign aides Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, with the FBI informant checking on Russian spying in the Trump campaign. This would have had to be done over and over, with reporters bring it up whenever “spygate” was used. Not an easy fix.

Then there are what cognitive scientists call “salient exemplars” – well-publicized individual cases, where wide publicity leads the public to take them as having a high probability and typifying a whole class. Trump turns them into weaponized stereotypes. He is a master at defaming entire groups of people as liars, rapists, terrorists – or in the case of US law enforcement and intelligence agencies – agents of corruption.

He knows how to avoid taking responsibility for a claim. “Maybe.” “I don’t know.” “We’ll see.” Yet the claim has been made and stands, with no responsibility for it.

In The Art of the Deal, Trump discusses using “truthful hyperbole” – exaggerated claims suggesting a significant truth. His hyperbole can be either positive (“great”, “terrific”, “the best”) for what he likes or negative (“a disaster,” “the worst ever”) for what he dislikes. “The worst trade deal ever” frames trade agreements as “deals”, where “deals” are seen as zero-sum games that you either win or lose – and winning is the only good outcome. “Doesn’t it feel good to win!” “You’ll win so much, you’ll feel tired of winning!”

“Deal” and “winning” are not just words. They are central to his worldview. Those who win deserve to win; those who lose deserve to lose. Those who don’t win are “losers”. This is a version of individual responsibility, a cornerstone of conservative thought. There is a moral hierarchy. Those who win are better than those who lose.

“America first” means that America is better than other countries, as shown by its wealth and power. And that wealth and power should be used to win – to acquire more wealth and power in all its “deals” – even with our allies. Power includes the power to bully or punish – for example, to impose tariffs or pull out of treaty – or at least threaten if others don’t go along with him.

Trump’s tweets are not random, they are strategic. There are four types: 1) Pre-emptive framing, to get a framing advantage. 2) Diversion, to divert attention when news could embarrass him. 3) Deflection: Shift the blame to others. And 4) trial balloon – test how much you can get away with. Reporting, and therefore repeating, Trump’s tweets just gives him more power. There is an alternative. Report the true frames that he is trying to pre-empt. Report the truth that he is trying to divert attention from. Put the blame where it belongs. Bust the trial balloon. Report what the strategies are trying to hide.

Cornered by the Russia investigation, Trump is working overtime to twist the facts, the law, and reality in general, to benefit himself. As the indictments and the evidence pile up in favor of a case for Trump-Russia collusion in the 2016 election, he’s made it clear that he considers himself above both the law and the truth. As president of the United States, anything he says – true or false – is faithfully parroted by the press. This needs to change.

Trump is subjecting American democracy to a brutal test. Our survival requires that the press halt its unwitting complicity in his power grab. The press has become complicit with Trump by allowing itself to be used as an amplifier for his falsehoods and frames. When the press gives Trump absolute power to dictate coverage, it abdicates its role as a pillar of democracy.

How can the press do a better job? Here are some basic suggestions:

First, journalists must understand how propaganda works on the brain and grasp the cognitive science that marketers of propaganda have implicitly mastered: frames, metaphors, narratives and brain basics.

Second, keep a steely focus on the fact that American democracy is under attack by a foreign power, possibly with collusion from the sitting president’s campaign. This is a crisis. Certain rules don’t apply in a crisis, especially the rule that the press must amplify the president’s words, whatever they are.

Third, stop letting Trump control the news cycle. Newsgathering should be a serious affair controlled by editors whose power rivals any politician’s. Stop chasing his tweets and elevating every sideshow. Start every story with truth and the context of what’s really important to citizens in a democracy. More BBC, less TMZ.

Fourth, don’t spread lies. Don’t privilege Trump’s lies by putting their specific language in the headlines, the leads or the hashtags. Don’t repeat the lies assuming people will automatically know they’re lies. People need to know the president is lying, but be careful about repeating the lies because “a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth”. Repetition of lies spreads them.

The job of the free press is to seek the truth and report the truth, especially the morally important truths and their consequences. If the press fails to do this job, not only does it lose its freedom, but we all do.

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