We all know that plagiarism is wrong. It was drummed into our heads in every English class we ever took, and it’s a surefire way to sabotage a writing career.
It happens, though, and cribbing content from another source isn’t always premeditated; it’s often an unthinking act of assimilation. We see and hear language that has been plagiarized more than we might think.
For example, political speech and ghostwriters frequently face allegations of plagiarism. The most likely reason for this is that speech writers are often discouraged from being “creative.” Political speeches typically thrive on the familiar. Writers are encouraged to stay within certain boundaries and provide generalized ideas with which many people can identify.
There have been several recent noteworthy cases—most notably the uproar over the multiple similarities between Melania Trump’s Republican convention speech and first lady Michelle Obama’s original address at the Democratic convention eight years earlier.