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4 Apr, 2018 00:20

Grammar mistakes mean you're a paid Kremlin troll, says Atlantic Council fellow

Grammar mistakes mean you're a paid Kremlin troll, says Atlantic Council fellow

If you’re a Russian immigrant in the United States — or anywhere else — don’t bother tweeting your opinions unless your English is flawless. Otherwise you’ll be branded a Kremlin-paid troll by influential American think tanks.

Eagle-eyed Ben Nimmo, a fellow at the Atlantic Council, has tweeted advice for Twitter users to help them identify “Russian troll-factory accounts” on the social media platform.

What gives the Russian trolls away, Nimmo advises, is their tendency to use imperfect English. For example, Nimmo highlights the “inability” of so-called Russian trolls to use the words ‘a’ or ‘the’ because the Russian language itself does not use definite or indefinite articles.

This means that a Russian without perfect English might say ‘There is black cat in house’ instead of ‘There is a black cat in the house’ — as a native English speaker would say. According to Nimmo, these are the “linguistic clues” that will betray your status as a Russian troll.

Graciously, Nimmo accepts that simply using imperfect English alone may not be enough evidence to outright brand someone as a paid Kremlin agitator, but if you’ve also been tweeting certain anti-Western "narratives" or indeed articles published by RT — then it’s a sure thing.

In other words, if you’re a non-native English speaker and you tweet anything that could be perceived as being against Western foreign policy, you’re probably working for the Russian government.

Russian-born investigative journalist Yasha Levine responded to Nimmo’s tweet thread calling it “anti-immigrant crap” and explaining that most Russian immigrants he knows occasionally make mistakes like the ones described by Nimmo.

In further tweets, Levine asked Nimmo if he and his family should be “smeared as Russian propaganda bots” for making a simple linguistic mistake and noted how strange it was that this kind of anti-immigrant sentiment was now seen to be acceptable by American liberals.

“The fact that this kind of casual xenophobia — smearing people as propagandists employed by a foreign government because of their imperfect English — is tolerated in liberal circles is infuriating and scary,” Levine wrote.

Levine’s tweets are unlikely to make Nimmo change his mind. He has continued to obsessively tweet screenshots of accounts he suspects of being trolls or sharing ties to the Kremlin, including the account of world-renowned Ukrainian-American pianist Valentina Lisitsa.

So, shape up, Russian immigrants. Nimmo and his fellow troll hunters are on to you.

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