Who's the Most Cunning Linguist?

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The Washington Post's Richard Morin reports on a recent study by University of Texas at Austin researchers who plugged speeches from the 2004 POTUS and Veep candidates into a text analysis program. Their findings:

Cheney easily sounded the smartest of the four, while Edwards and Bush favored the least sophisticated language patterns, Slatcher and his colleagues report in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Research in Personality. When it came to sounding presidential, both Bush and his running mate scored considerably higher than Kerry or Edwards. Bush was the oldest-sounding candidate. Edwards also was the most likely to use feminine speech patterns and "female" words (Bush was a close second), while Cheney sounded most like a man's man.

The vice president sounded the most honest of the four, and Kerry the least. Kerry's language also was most like that of a depressed person, followed by Edwards. Perhaps that's inevitable; after all, challengers must sound gloomy and doomy about their opponents' records, though in doing so they run clear risks.

NEXT: Hold Off on Those Clone Vats

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  1. They need to run the speeches through that bullshit filter Asimov invented in his Foundation series. Someone talks into the thing and it spits out how much of what the speaker said was actually substantive.

  2. Are you guys talking about me?

  3. I could have given them exactly the same results without all that fancy booklarnin’.

  4. They need to run the speeches through that bullshit filter Asimov invented in his Foundation series. Someone talks into the thing and it spits out how much of what the speaker said was actually substantive.

    Constant readings of zero percent will make people think the filter must be broken.

  5. I just RTF and it looks pretty darn good to me. Of course, the results aren’t surprising, but that’s because this is how we perceive these guys when we listen to them.

  6. Once again proving my theory that southern crackers are teh dumb.

  7. My unscientific analysis says they all four sound like assholes…but each one edges out the other depending on the situation.

    When Kerry talks about NASCAR, Vietnam or Cheney’s daughter, HE sounds like the biggest asshole.

    When Bush talks about freedom, democracy or says the phrase ‘evildoers’, HE sounds like the biggest asshole.

    When Cheney says the insurgency is on it’s last leg (or some such) and lobbies a pass for torture HE sounds like the biggest asshole.

    And whenever Edwards opens his mouth, HE pretty much sounds like the biggest asshole.

  8. But did they control for speechwriters?

    This is like analyzing Nick Gillespie based on the articles in Reason. There’s a connection, but it isn’t direct.

  9. I ran some of my writings through one of those web sites that tries to tell from your writing if you’re male or female, and apparently I’m George Elliot.

  10. Cheney’s scores are skewed because his role in the campaign was entirely different from that of the other three. Having no broad public appeal whatsoever, having a running mate with a great deal of personal charisma, and being in the position of the incumbant, he spent the campaign largely making insider speeches and playing the part of the wise old insider. Unlike the other three, he wasn’t sent out there to talk about values and declare that the future lies before us.

  11. (to Cheney)

    You may be a cunning linguist but I’m a master debater.

  12. linguist, you shoulda gone with that name change 🙂

    Sandy, all of us southerners are fools. Unfortunately, so is everyone else.

  13. Gosh, UT Austin comes to ridiculously favorable conclusions about Bush and Cheney.

    I’m shocked. But I’m sure they’ll get a fat pork sandwich in the next budget.

  14. Holy shit Jon!

    Discounting academic research based on geography.. That’s a good one.

  15. “Discounting academic research based on geography”

    Not geography, proximity and history and political flattery.

    It’s hardly a stretch to suppose that the University of Texas at Austin would be interested in kissing the ass of ex-governor Bush in order to get some of that sweet, sweet pork. It’s hardly a stretch to suppose the administration of U of T has some GOP political appointees or similarly GOP-linked members.

  16. Err, Jon H–have you ever been to Austin?

    Remember how, like, all the bartenders had it in for one of the twins?

    /Isle of Blue, babe, sea of red.

  17. I gotchyer cunninglin… right here.

  18. Shocking. Who said that? That couldnta been me.

  19. Cheney is so goyish. How can he be smart, too?

  20. UT-Austin conservative hotbed. Didn’t W finish behind the Green Party candidate in Austin?

  21. It’s hardly a stretch to suppose that the University of Texas at Austin would be interested in kissing the ass of ex-governor Bush in order to get some of that sweet, sweet pork.

    Not. UT Austin is somewhat left of Joe. Why do you think Bush1 put his library over in College Station, on the campus of Texas A&M?

    There’s a story about a Texas legislator arrested on Sixth Street for soliciting and illegally carrying a handgun. A San Antonio radio jock expressed surprise at the pinch, as he figured most Texans did those things.

    A wiser listener straightened him out. “The guy wasn?t arrested in Texas. He was arrested in Austin.”

  22. Dang. Turn off curly quotes. Turn off curley quotes.

  23. Ahh, but there’s undoubtedly a secret cabal of nefarious conservatives who really run things at the UT, in between quail-hunting sessions.

  24. Jon H’s comments attributed their motivation to a desire for pork, as well as “proximity and history and political flattery.” Not ideology.

    I don’t know whether there’s any validity to his speculation, but y’all are knocking down a strawman.

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