Ben Zimmer

Even if you close your eyes, you’ll still hear Donald Trump sniffing. Linguists might call [these visuals] paralinguistics, every form of information including facial gestures and facial features. Obviously these things get scrutinized in tremendous detail, so that a cough can be of outsized importance. [But] that’s all part of the package.

Even though a definite article is supposed to bring something into focus, Donald Trump uses it in a very general way. It’s seen by many observers as a kind of racial distancing. Often using that article seems unnecessary. [But] it is serving some function, which is to represent a group collectively rather than as individuals.