Editors' pickPoliticsUSA

Vladimir Putin Is A “Moran”

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Putin isn’t really a moron — he’s dangerously smart and amoral.

My headline isn’t just clickbait either. It points out a challenge that Putin’s Russia faces as it wages war against America and our allies — Russia’s troll factories can’t hire fluent English speakers fast enough. Grumpy, the Russian troll we’ve been looking at, is so bad at English that he can’t even spell “moron.”

Ponder Putin’s predicament. He’s won major victories, helping to split the U.K. from the E.U. and playing a YUGE (perhaps even decisive) role in helping to elect Donald Trump. But success creates its own problems.

Twitter and its co-founder/CEO Jack Dorsey, who are willfully blind to Russia using their platform to wage war, are giving Russia free rein to create 100,000s of trolls on Twitter alone. (If you want to know the math supporting my estimate, please read this post.) When you add in Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr, blogs and other platforms, Russia’s trolls, bots and cyborgs quite likely exceed 1,000,000 user accounts across all platforms. That’s why Russia can’t hire fluent English-speakers fast enough.

Russia’s troll factories can’t hire fluent English speakers fast enough. Tweet this.

If you were reading my original Twitter account, you know that already. When I exposed the left-wing anti-Trump fake #Resistance account @MarcusC22973194 (now @ironstowe), I detailed how Marcus’ English is remarkably poor and how he makes the same predictable types of mistakes that are characteristic of a native Russian speaker trying to master English.

This isn’t new. On June 2, 2015, Adrian Chen, writing the lead story for The New York Times’ Sunday Magazine, reported that trolls working at the infamous Internet Research Agency had to take classes in English because they were making too many mistakes.

But Russia goes to war with the troll army it has — not the troll army it might want or wish to have at a later time. Grumpy, whose English is so bad that he spells “moron” as “moran” is a great example.

Grumpy’s English is awful

If you read even just a few of his tweets, you’ll immediately notice how many times Grumpy misspells basic English words that you’d expect a native English speaker to get right. Here’re just a few examples of how Grumpy butchers English.


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Moskow” — ROFL at this misspelling. As it happens, Moscow in Russian is spelled Москва́ using the character к from the Cyrillic alphabet so it’s entirely understandable that a Russian troll who hasn’t yet mastered English spells Moscow as Moskow. This is the same reason why Grumpy uses “Kaddafi” for the name of the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. After all, Russians spell Gaddafi as Кадда́фи, once again using the Cyrillic character к.



















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Grumpy’s mistakes are too frequent and too blatant to be excused away as typos.

  • Misspelling “moron” as “moran” seven times isn’t just a typo.
  • Misspelling “indict” as “indite” twenty times isn’t just a typo.
  • Misspelling “obstructionist” as “ubstructionalists” isn’t just a typo.

Grumpy’s problems go beyond just spelling. Here’re just a few more of his laughably poor attempts at English.

Barnaman BAiley” instead of Barnum & Bailey.



“Bona Petit” for bon appétit — I had to pause for a moment to figure out what Grumpy was even trying to say. (Notice that Grumpy’s replying to Betty White. It’s all part of what will become a campaign lasting years to create a believable cover story and to get his name in front of other peeps who might fall into his target audience so that he start engaging with and recruiting them.)



calateral damage” instead of collateral damage, something you’d think a peep who claims to be an Air Force vet would get right. (Pay attention to how Grumpy, who repeatedly defends Russia, goes out of his way to highlight the U.S. military killing civilians.)



“United we Stand, Devided”… really?



“the riotous” — LOL at the riotous inheriting the Earth. I don’t think the Lord said what Grumpy thinks He said.



The simple fact is that Grumpy’s English is “damed” poor. When you realize that a word like “moron” is so basic that elementary students are expected to master it, it makes you wonder how Grumpy got into the Air Force, especially when you realize that the Air Force requires higher AFQT test scores than the Army, Navy and Marines.

Grumpy is really being run by at least two Russians

Yet if you check, you’ll discover that on many other occasions Grumpy correctly spells exactly these same words, including allegations, charity, concerned, fantasy, friend, Hollywood, hypocrite, indict, moron, Moscow, obstructionists, paid, policies, prosecuted, sneaking and sympathizer.

  • A normal person doesn’t misspell “moron” as “moran” seven times yet know how to spell the same word correctly in other tweets.
  • A normal person misspell “indict” as “indite” twenty times yet know how to spell the same word correctly in other tweets.
  • A normal person doesn’t misspell “obstructionist” as “ubstructionalist” yet know how to spell the same word correctly in other tweets.

That is, a single person doesn’t do that. That’s why I believe that at least two separate people tweeting as Grumpy at different times — one whose English is “damed” poor and another whose English is damned good, even excellent.

Take a look at one of the most frequently misspelled words in the English language: “embarrass.” How is it that a guy who can’t even spell “moron” is suddenly able to knock off “embarrassed” and “embarrassing” without a hitch?

Or look at “sneak.” It’s such a basic word that fourth graders are expected to know it. It’s such an easy word for native speakers to spell that “sneaking” is misspelled as “sneeking” fewer than 0.025% of the times it appears in the world’s largest corpus of contemporary English. How is it that a guy who can’t even spell “sneak” correctly is somehow miraculously capable of correctly using and properly spelling “rapprochement”?

Do you think this might possibly have to do with the fact that learning to spell and pronounce diphthongs is one of the tougher aspects of learning English as a second language? In particular, do you think mastering this aspect of English (which has 12 vowel sounds, 5 long and 7 short, plus 8 diphthongs) can be especially hard for native speakers of Russian (which has 5 vowel sounds, with no differentiation between short and long vowels and no true diphthongs)? Do you think that some schlub slaving his way through another 12-hour day at a Russian troll factory might spell “sneaking” as “sneeking” because the word sounds like “ee” but he’s still learning English so he doesn’t know yet that it’s spelled “ea”? (Could that be the same reason the same schlub spells “Barnum & Bailey” as “Barnaman BAiley” and thinks it’s the name of a person rather than a circus?)

Grumpy’s wildly inconsistent use of English doesn’t make any sense if he’s supposed to be just a single person, an Air Force vet living in Winona, Minnesota, but it makes total sense once you realize that “Grumpy” is really being staffed at least two Russians logging into Grumpy’s account at different times with Mr. “Rapprochement” being damned good at English and Mr. “Moran” being “damed” poor. This explains how Grumpy, whose English is atrocious so often, can astoundingly and properly employ not just “embarrass” and “rapprochement” but also “complacency,” “disaffected,” “dysfunction,” “masseuse” and “surveillance.”

Here in the States, it’s common for multiple staffers to have the ability to tweet on behalf of a particular brand’s or public figure’s account. The reasons that we do it here are the same reasons why Russian troll factories do it with trolls like Grumpy. Having multiple people tweeting on Grumpy’s account affords greater flexibility, including enabling Grumpy (unlike many other trolls) to tweet on U.S. time, not Moscow time. In particular, using multiple staffers is an effective coping mechanism to deal with the challenge that Russian troll factories can’t hire fluent English-speakers fast enough.

Why is Grumpy tweeting in Spanish?

Speaking of language, since Grumpy has enough problems with English, how is it that he’s tweeting in Spanish, attacking Clinton and supporting Trump?

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Seriously? Grumpy can’t even spell moron and now we’re supposed to suddenly believe that he knows another language well enough to tweet in Spanish “Open borders allow the radical Islamic terrorists to impose their culture on the women of the U S, is what you want?”



Why is Grumpy tweeting in French?

It’s not just Spanish either. What’s up with Grumpy tweeting in French, supporting Putin’s favorite candidate Marine Le Pen?

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Isn’t it interesting that the DGSE (the French equivalent of the CIA) was warning about Russia interfering in the French presidential election by using fake accounts to generate thousands of positive messages on social media?

Why is Grumpy tweeting in Russian?

And pardon my French but WTF is up with Grumpy tweeting in Russian?!?!? Take a look at this short exchange.

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Let’s unpack these three tweets. As background, Trump’s political advisor Carter Page had had some sort of contact in 2016 with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. On March 3, 2017, when Anderson Cooper interviewed Page on CNN, Page, who “gets by” in Russian, argued with Cooper that his contact with Kislyak didn’t constitute a meeting and soon started talking at Anderson Cooper about “the definition of ‘meeting’ in Russian.”

Given that background, @julieroginsky tweets asking Page whether the right Russian word for his contact with Kislyak is встреча or собрания. So you know, Julie is a Democratic political strategist who often appears on Fox News as a political commentator. She was born in Moscow to a family of political dissidents before she and her family emigrated to the U.S. so she speaks Russian. Both of the Russian words Julie tweets basically mean meeting. According to Langenscheidt’s Russian-English Dictionary, встреча conveys a warm welcome while собрания means more of an assembly.

In response, Grumpy tweets “свидание would be more like it.” свидание is the word that Russians commonly use to mean to go on a date with the opposite sex or to have a sexual tryst or rendezvous. So when Grumpy tweets back at Julie, Grumpy is saying that Carter Page hooking up with the Russian ambassador would be more like it. Grumpy is using obviously unbelievable sexual innuendo to minimize Page’s contact with Kislyak. This is exactly what we saw Grumpy do when he wanted to deflect attention away from the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians. Then Grumpy tweeted that since there were so many people in such a small room,“Maybe it was an Orgy w/the Russian lawyer?” Grumpy’s doing the same thing here when talking about Page’s contact with Kislyak, only this time Grumpy’s displaying a fluent knowledge of Russian including a familiarity with Russian idiom. To knock out his tweet, which Grumpy posted 18 minutes after Julie’s, Grumpy needed to know not just the two Russian words Julie used (встреча and собрания) but also the third Russian word he used himself (свидание) and he needed to know them well enough to convey an ironic meaning in Russian. Julie’s a native Russian speaker. Just this single tweet suggests Grumpy is as well.

Just 9 minutes later Grumpy replies to his own tweet saying “Есть ли брить ноги или еще волосатых I’m for more meetings, talk is better than fighting.” Google Translate translates this Russian phrase as “Are there any shaving legs or still hairy.” Bing’s Microsoft Translator gives “Is there a shaved leg or another hairy.” Neither is a great translation. While I’ll defer to a fluent Russian speaker, my own stab is that Grumpy is asking Julie Roginsky (whom Grumpy repeatedly attacks and insults in more than 100 tweets) if her legs (or perhaps implicitly a more private body part) are shaved or still hairy. Assuming I’m correct, this is consistent with the sexualized insults we’ve seen Grumpy hurl at Republicans and Democratics alike. Remember when Grumpy attacked Paul Ryan’s masculinity by saying Paul does what his wife tells him to do and attacked Barack Obama’s masculinity by saying Barack is gay and Michelle is a trans dude? Grumpy’s doing the same thing here, insulting Julie Roginsky’s femininity by suggesting she doesn’t shave, only this time Grumpy’s displaying a fluent knowledge of Russian.

Now let’s look at this other tweet by Grumpy to Julie in Russian.



Google Translate translates the Russian phrase “почему бы вам не сказать до свидания” into “Why do you not say goodbye.” Bing’s Microsoft Translator similarly translates it as “Why don’t you say goodbye.” Interestingly, when I type “Why don’t you say goodbye” into Google Translate and Microsoft Translator, the Russian that pops out from both is “Почему бы тебе не попрощаться.” In his tweet, Grumpy does not use “Почему бы тебе не попрощаться.” Instead, Grumpy uses a somewhat different Russian phrase, “почему бы вам не сказать до свидания.” In other words, Grumpy is not using these online translators to come up with the Russian that he used in his tweet. Once again, the guy logged into Grumpy’s account knows Russian.

To shed more light on Grumpy’s use of Russian, let’s do a quick word frequency analysis of a few of the Russian words that Grumpy uses or understands.

  • встреча, which means meeting and which Julie Roginsky uses in her tweet, is the 481st most frequently word used in Russian. Now a different word frequency list based upon a different corpus of text might give a somewhat different number. For now I’m not even going to dive into the linguistic details of whether the register used to collect the corpus is spoken language, non-fiction or fiction. The more general point isn’t to figure out the precise rank but to get a broad sense of how commonly a word is used. A beginner learning a language may often know a thousand to a couple of thousand words so the fact that Grumpy understands a pretty common Russian word indicates Grumpy knows Russian but this single word alone doesn’t tell us much about how fluent Grumpy’s knowledge of Russian is.
  • свидание, which Grumpy uses and which means a romantic date or sexual tryst, is the 2945th most frequent word used in Russian. This is getting less common. I wouldn’t expect a beginner to pull this word out of a hat and use it properly to suggest an ironic sexual connotation to Page’s contact with Kislyak.
  • волосатых, meaning hairy, is 10,566th. Grumpy not only uses a word that a beginner likely wouldn’t know but he uses the proper ending as well. Keep in mind that Russian, unlike English, changes the endings of adjectives according to the gender, number, and case of the nouns they modify. If Grumpy had been typing “hairy” into Google Translate to pull up the Russian word, he would have gotten волосатый, not волосатых. That would have been wrong in this context. If Grumpy had typed “hairy” into Bing’s Microsoft Translator, he would have gotten волосат without an ending, which also would have been wrong. Grumpy isn’t doing that. Instead he not only knows the right word but he’s also using the correct lexical form that’s salient to the context and the meaning he wants to convey. By just looking at the words Grumpy is using and how he’s using them, we’re now getting a good idea that Grumpy’s got a pretty good command of Russian.
  • брить, the Russian verb meaning to shave, ranks 16,771st. To put that into context, one frequently-cited and well-respected study concluded that “well-educated native speakers of English have a vocabulary of around 17,000 base words.” Goulden, Robin, Paul Nation, and John Read. “How large can a receptive vocabulary be?.” Applied linguistics 11.4 (1990): 341–363. While that study applies to English and I’m not familiar myself with a similar work examining Russian, the broader point is this — the fact that Grumpy knows and properly uses a word that ranks somewhere around the 16,000th to 17,000th most frequently used word in Russian indicates that Grumpy’s likely a well-educated native speaker.

Does any intelligent person (other than Jack Dorsey) really believe that Grumpy — who knows Russian but who is a “moran” when it comes to English and who spews Russian propoganda — is a flesh-and-blood American vet living in Winona, Minnesota?

In my next post — Trolls, Attack America! — we’ll turn to how Grumpy fits into Russia’s troll armies and how he and his fellow enlisted soldiers support other much older, more established trolls to help stir up hate and incite violence against Muslims in America.


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