Words from the State of the Union Address

by Eszter Hargittai on January 23, 2007

Recall our pointer to the site showing tag clouds of presidential speeches since 1796 (now updated for 2007). The New York Times has done something similar with Bush’s State of the Union Addresses. It’s a neat tool, in addition to the terms shown by default on the right, you can select others or search for any term you choose above the diagram of the speeches. You also get to see the word’s context.



Charlie Whitaker 01.24.07 at 7:03 am

‘Climate change’ appears in 2007 for the first time.

Great tool, that. Can anyone think of interesting things to search for?


Charlie Whitaker 01.24.07 at 7:09 am

Also, ‘war’ is up (11 mentions this year, 2 last year). ‘Terror’ is fairly constant at around 20 mentions p.a..

‘Peace’? Three mentions this year. Trending downwards.


marcel 01.24.07 at 11:22 am

Eszter: in the NYT display, Iraq appears twice on the left, once with yellow circles, once with blue. Any clue to what this means, or what the color coding more generally means?


abb1 01.24.07 at 12:01 pm

It looks like the top line on the right is line for the current word you searched for. The blue lines below are permanent.


eszter 01.24.07 at 12:10 pm

Marcel, I think Abb1 is right about the orange vs blue bubbles.

Charlie, what to search for? One way to go about it is look at the speeches from others in the past (using that other site) and see how those compare to these cases. That’s not the method I used to search for these though, these just came to mind:
no child left behind


Sans S 01.24.07 at 12:50 pm

The yellow bubbles indicates the selected word/s but also which to use in the context navigator below the text minatures. This would be interesting in a mash-up with the News Ranker tool at Huff-Post.

Thanks for link!


kim 01.24.07 at 1:28 pm

I notice “inequality” is constant at 0 mentions.

Best not mention that, eh?


John Emerson 01.24.07 at 2:42 pm

“Mutombo” probably only appeared this once.


Hogan 01.24.07 at 5:31 pm

“Mutombo” probably only appeared this once.

Intentionally, anyway.


finn 01.24.07 at 9:30 pm

My favorite googlewhack in these speeches is “destruction-related” … although when he pronounced it, he paused for a good few seconds to try to disassociate those words as much as possible.


Ginger Yellow 01.25.07 at 8:31 am


2001: 2
2002: 0
2003: 1
2004: 9
2005: 2
2006: 1
2007: 0

What a coincidence!


Stuart 01.25.07 at 9:53 am

Actually that could be quite interesting – find a way to compare what words are more/less common when he is/was trying to get elected, and what he talks about when that isnt the issue, and how much it varies. Could be used as a general metric against politicians in general to try to get an idea of how honest they are about what the issues are when trying to get elected compared to what they actually do when in power.


Ginger Yellow 01.25.07 at 10:55 am

It’s been done. Not on a systematic, scientific basis, but I just remembered that someone had gone through Bush’s speeches a while back and found that the culture war trigger words came up enormously disproportionately during election years.

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