News and Tribune


June 7, 2013

STAWAR: The governor’s speech


Words associated with the body were also used infrequently, which may be related to the overall dearth of feeling words.  The data also suggest openness to auditory information, given the low frequency of both “seeing” and “feeling” words, while  “hearing” words were closer to the norm. 

Finally, the governor’s speeches used relatively few words associated with “home.” Like the lack of “friend” words this might also reflect formality instead of folksiness , and perhaps an emphasis on work and business, as opposed to,  domestic themes.  

When comparing the governor’s speeches to President Obama’s latest inaugural  and state of the union speeches, surprisingly the inaugural addresses matched language style  at the “far above average” level and the “State” speeches matched at the “above average” level.  Even the Hillsdale speech, which criticized President Obama’s word choice, ironically   matched  the president’s inaugural and State of the Union addresses the most, at the “far above average” level.    

Comparing the combined Pence speeches with the combined Obama speeches, there was significant overlap. Both had very few “I” words, “sexual” words, “body” words, “feeling” words, or words associated with the past. Both sets of speeches had high frequencies of “we” words, big words, inhibition words, and words related to “money”, “people” and “achievement.” The governor’s speeches, however, also contained a high frequency of words associated with “work”, “religion” and “death” while the president’s speeches  were characterized by a high number of  words relating to “certainty”, “causality” and the future.  

Pennebaker says that linguistic style is as unique as a fingerprint. Although Gov. Pence’s and President Obama’s speeches both contained strong signature features, I was struck by the many similarities. Of course, despite big differences in political philosophy, comparable contexts (such as inaugurations or outlining legislative agendas) may engender comparable styles. 

Just to be fair I also did a LIWC analysis of this column. Oddly enough this column also ends up looking very similar in style to  the speeches discussed. This may be because it cites so many of the words found in them. Also keep in mind the analysis may reveal as much about my editor, Diane, as it does about me. 


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