News and Tribune


June 7, 2013

STAWAR: The governor’s speech


Religious words were next highest in frequency, followed by words related to death. The religious references are also understandable. The governor once defined himself  succinctly as, “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that specific order.” Surprisingly, however, death-associated words were found at  twice the expected frequency.      

Within the actual text the words “die”, “bury”, “grave”, “murder”, “corpse”, “blood-soaked” and “souls” were found. All of these words, however, came exclusively from the Hillsdale speech, in which the governor made many historical references that dealt with themes of warfare, strife and sacrifice and they account for high frequency of death associated words.

Overall there was also a high frequency of people-related words, which most political speeches are likely to have. The governor’s speeches contained a lot of large words and quite a few articles, which is typical for higher status educated males.  

At the other end of the spectrum, the governor’s speeches had very few words that signaled assent, such as “yes”, “agree”  and “OK.” This is consistent with the large number of inhibition words. You can’t agree all that much, when you’re inhibiting  things. There was a very infrequent use of “I” words, which fits in with the  high “we” word usage. There were no sexual words present, which is probably a very prudent policy for political speeches, as candidates in the last election learned.

There were few words associated with friends (such as “friend”, “buddy” and “neighbor”), which would be expected in political speech. The lack suggests some distancing and perhaps excessive formality.

Feeling words were also relatively low, suggesting an emphasis on rational rather than emotionalism. There was a low frequency of words relating to the past, which I found unusual, considering the historical features of the Hillsdale speech. This may reflect a purposeful attempt to maintain attention on listeners’ current concerns.  

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