President Trump has long wielded the word “Nafta” like an epithet, deriding the North American Free Trade Agreement as the worst trade deal in history.
So when he renamed it the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement — or U.S.M.C.A. — this week, he may have short-circuited attempts to criticize the new deal. Why? Because the name itself is really hard to say.
Even Mr. Trump, who bills himself as a master brander, appeared to grasp that U.S.M.C.A. was not as smooth as Nafta, saying on Monday that people would make use of the new term “99 percent” of the time. At an event in Philadelphia on Tuesday he poked fun at the name, arguing that it had to be changed because Nafta was so bad for the country.
“U.S.M.C.A. Like Y.M.C.A., or United States Marine Corps with an A at the end,” Mr. Trump said. “I like the way it sounded.”
He is largely alone. While reviews of the trade deal itself are still coming in, the name itself has gotten a resounding thumbs down.
Top Trump administration officials have stumbled over the agreement’s shorthand, which linguists say is tricky to verbalize because it is an initialism rather than an acronym, like Nafta, which slides off the lips like a word.
Speaking to reporters outside the White House on Tuesday, Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, made clear that he was still coming to terms with the new name while espousing its many virtues.
“The North American deal — the U.S.A. — uh, uh — got to get this right — U.S.A.M.C.?” Mr. Kudlow said.
Dean Crutchfield, a branding and marketing strategist in New York, said that since the name was officially being changed in the text, it would probably take hold, as long as the news media used it.
“I think the more people see it, the more they will get accustomed to it,” Mr. Crutchfield said.