President Trump pronounced the word origins [ˈɔ:rɪʤɪnz] as oringes [ˈɔ:rɪnʤəz] in a meeting with NATO secretary general Stoltenberg at the White House on 3 April 2019.

See this clip on Youtube.


What are the technical term and that term’s definition of the phonological process at play here, and how exactly does that term apply to the change in pronunciation from [ˈɔ:rɪʤɪn] to [ˈɔ:rɪnʤ]?

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    Possible duplicate of What causes the pronunciation “nucular”? The accepted answer was metathesis. President Trump seems to be aware of his slip because at one point he says the word "origin" a little more carefully and correctly. Apr 6, 2019 at 12:13
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    I listened to the Trump recording a couple of times, and it sounded to me like he was not simply mispronouncing "origin" but was clearly saying "orange". This would lead the casual observer to believe the he does not know what "origin" means in the sense it was being used. (Or perhaps for some reason he got into the practice of using "orange" facetiously and forgot he was speaking for the record.)
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 6, 2019 at 12:18
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    Three syllables....dementia
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 6, 2019 at 12:36
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    @RichardZ While the frequent phonetic flipflops of Mrs Malaprop can be as easily ascribed to a third-class mind unconsciously covering for a poor education under class-related pretensions as they can to manifestly apparent senescent cognitive deterioration, far be it from ELU to attempt similar analyses on living examples of these traits.
    – tchrist
    Apr 6, 2019 at 14:57
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    This clearly isn’t metathesis since it’s not two sounds switching positions, but one sound moving further up in a word. I’ve never come across a term for that. English has a sporadic tradition of nasal insertion before a /dʒ/ in the onset of the final syllable in trisyllabic words, especially of French oran—sorry, origins (message ~ messenger, passage ~ passenger). There isn’t usually an n at the end to delete/move, but this still feels like it must be closely related to that process. Apr 6, 2019 at 19:45

1 Answer 1


I believe this is a good example of non-adjacent metathesis (hyperthesis)

Metathesis involving non-contiguous sounds, also known as long-distance metathesis or hyperthesisWikipedia

hyperthesis: linguistics, phonology n. A form of metathesis in which non-contiguous sounds are switched. (borrowed from Ancient Greek hupérthesis .) Wiktionary

This is the right answer because, as others have pointed out, standard metathesis would involve switching the 'n' and 'g' in origins, which would form "orinigs". Hyperthesis covers this exact problem.

Often, hyperthesis is present when sound changes between languages occur. See this example list from the linked Wikipedia article:

Latin parabola > Spanish palabra 'word'
Latin miraculum > Spanish milagro 'miracle'
Latin periculum > Spanish peligro 'danger, peril'
Latin crocodilus > Spanish cocodrilo 'crocodile'

  • Spanish didn't have to borrow those from Latin. They were always there to start with. Unlike English, Spanish is a direct lineal descendant of Latin. They just got worn down from overuse across the millennia. .:)
    – tchrist
    Nov 11, 2019 at 1:57

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