Words don't lie: semantic mapping of presidential candidates shows what's really on their minds

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Sun Sep 28 15:49:40 UTC 2008



On Sun, Sep 28, 2008 at 11:42 AM, Hazeera Zavahir
<hazeerazavahir at yahoo.com>wrote:

>   Dear Sir
>              Kindly terminate sending me any further mails regarding your
> suibject
> Thank You
> hazeera
> --- On *Sun, 9/28/08, Dennis Baron <debaron at illinois.edu>* wrote:
> From: Dennis Baron <debaron at illinois.edu>
> Subject: Words don't lie: semantic mapping of presidential candidates shows
> what's really on their minds
> To: "Baron Dennis" <debaron at illinois.edu>, "language language policy" <
> lgpolicy-list at ccat.sas.upenn.edu>, "ads ads" <ads-l at listserv.uga.edu>,
> "wpa" <wpa-l at asu.edu>
> Date: Sunday, September 28, 2008, 12:56 AM
> There's a new post on the Web of Language: <http://illinois.edu/goto/weboflanguage>
> Words don't lie: semantic mapping of presidential candidates shows what's
> really on their minds
> With the global economy imploding and the United States mired in two wars
> of attrition, the presidential candidates met for their first debate Sept.
> 26 at the University of Mississippi. By counting their words we can create a
> semantic map for each candidate, a map which shows just how skillfully Sens.
> McCain and Obama skirted these pressing issues.
> The most frequent words out of John McCain's mouth were "Senator Obama,"
> which he said a total of 45 times according to the *Washington Post's tag
> cloud analysis<http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/interactives/campaign08/debates/?hpid=topnews>
> *. Sen. Obama's favorite word was "going" (55 occurrences; the *Post* didn't
> count words like *the *and *is,* focusing instead on more substantive
> substantives and more verbal verbs).
> According to MSNBC, <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032553/#scroll_debates> Obama
> said *Al Qaida* about twice as often as McCain, but not enough to stir the
> needle on the *Post's* tag cloud counter, and while Obama said *billion* some
> 22 times, McCain mentioned no big dollar amounts, confirming his belief that
> if you have to ask what something costs, then you can't afford it. Neither
> candidate mentioned *subprime mortgage. *They can afford not mentioning
> it, because their homes are paid for.
>  Of course partisan readers will bend even a tag cloud to fit their
> preconceived notions of what was said. For example, Democratic pundits
> concluded that the frequency of *going* showed Obama to be a man of
> action, while McCain's rehearsal of his opponent's name indicated that the
> aging senator had to constantly remind himself who he was talking to. But
> Republicans found just the opposite, spinning McCain as a pragmatist rooted
> firmly in the present while Obama was off wool gathering about the future.
> McCain said *Senator Obama* more often than he said *Iraq* (17 times), *
> Afghanistan* (11), and *troops*(also 11). And McCain, who just turned 72
> this week, found more ways to say, "I'm really an old guy" than his handlers
> might have liked. On the other hand, Obama said *years* 21 times, a
> thinly-veiled attempt to convince voters that he is actually old enough to
> be president . . . .
> read the rest of this post on the Web of Language<http://illinois.edu/goto/weboflanguage>
> ____________________
>  Dennis Baron
> Professor of English and Linguistics
> Department of English
> University of Illinois
> 608 S. Wright St.
> Urbana, IL 61801
> office: 217-244-0568
> fax: 217-333-4321
> http://illinois.edu/goto/debaron
> read the Web of Language:
> http://illinois.edu/goto/weboflanguage


Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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