LING001 -- Homework 6

(Due Wed. 11/14/2018)

Apply any two of the five types of analysis listed below to (at least) two political speeches, by two different politicians.

Whatever analyses you do, try to use them to draw some conclusions about the politicians and their personalities, ideas, and rhetorical self-presentation.

You're free to choose any politicians, from any country, speaking in any language. Some perhaps-useful links are given below:

This site has links to many sources of (mostly historical) political speeches.

The Internet Archive has a specific "Trump archive".

Factbase has lots of video and transcripts of political speeches.

Recent speeches by prominent poiticians can usually be found on YouTube -- thus a search for {Trump rally Illinois} turns up various video versions of that recent event, and a search for {Illinois rally} on Factbase turns up paragraph-by-paragraph transcripts.

C-SPAN.org has links to video of many political speeches, events, and discussions of all kinds.

You can find links to video recordings in the Wikipedia pages for the "Republican presidential debates, 2016" and the "Democratic presidential debates, 2016". For transcripts, you generally need to search the web -- time.com is a reliable site, via searches like this or this.

You can find video, audio and transcripts for UK parliamentary activities here and here.

And you can often find audio, video, and/or transcripts of political events by doing web searches of more specific kinds, like {Donald Trump rally video} or {Hillary Clinton rally transcript}.

Depending on the kind of analysis you're doing, and the depth of your interest, you may want to make use of the text, audio and/or video of more than one speech by each of the politicians you choose.

1. Use of metaphorical language. Try to relate a number of particular examples to a larger metaphorical scheme, perhaps in the general style discussed here and here.

2. Differences in word choice -- one model might be an analysis like this one.

2. Sentence length and depth of syntactic embedding. See here and here for some sample analyses in this style.

3. Use of disfluencies (filled pauses such as um and uh, or notable silent pauses; repetitions such as "I see no reason to believe we're headed for -- (pause) -- for economic downturn"; self-corrections such as "I mean, the free market is our -- one of our greatest assets"). At what rate do disfluencies occur? What is the effect on the candidate's message?

4. The dimensions of James Pennebaker's "LIWC" analysis. (Since this has not been covered in class, you'll need to look at the manual and/or this paper to decide whether you want to try it -- and to try it, you'll need to spend $9.95 on the 30-day academic rental...)

5. You can use free pre-packaged software like TextSTAT to do some word- or phrase-frequency calculations of your own, whose results you think are interesting. If you're a little more ambitious, and especially if you have some programming background, you might try NLTK; and of course you're free to write your own scripts in any programming language of your choosing.

6. And of course you can analyze your chosen passages "by hand", without any mechanical aids.

[Note that the on-line transcripts generally do not reproduce disfluencies accurately, so if you choose to do analysis type 3, you should correct the transcripts by reference to the recordings.]

Feel free to improvise on these general ideas, or explore different directions, as long as the results are a) reasonably objective, factually correct, and well documented, and b) interesting.

You can test a hypothesis advanced by journalists or other observers; you can provide evidence for a hypothesis of your own; you can explore an interesting question without any preconceptions of how it'll turn out.