Speech Analysis

If you’ve never played around with Wordle, it’s “a toy for generating ‘word clouds’ from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text.”

One blogger made six word clouds of 9-12 speeches from Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Nixon, Bush 2, and Obama. It’s hardly a representative sample of presidents, but it’s interesting to see which words were favored over time. It’s only after Lincoln that the terms “American” and “America” become prominent; before that “states” is far more common. Jefferson emphasized “peace,” while “war” is one of the bigger words for Lincoln.

Also noteworthy is how the three earlier presidents favored “may” as their most common verb, while Nixon switched to “let” and the two most recent presidents strongly prefer “must.” That, somehow, isn’t the least bit surprising…our government is definitely fond of telling us what we “must” do.

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