A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

the power of words

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on September 6, 2008

Several years ago, while on one of my many (and much loved!) visits to the Kuwaiti khala and uncle, my aunt taught me something that has stuck with me.

After I finished saying something to her one day, she leaned forward and smiled at me.

I’ve noticed something that’s important to you, she told me. You’ve used the word “authentic” several times in the past couple of days. I can tell that authenticity is important to you.

Hmmm, I thought. I guess this explains why I’ve never been a big fan of the fake handbags sold on Canal Street.

But on a deeper level, my aunt was right: authenticity is important to me. And my aunt learned this by listening carefully to the words I used over and over again – an unconscious way of articulating something I value.

The New York Times also seems to understand the importance of repetition, and yesterday it published a very useful comparison of the words that speakers at the Democratic and Republican conventions used most frequently, as an overall total and broken down by individual speaker. I found the results fascinating, and very useful – and whether you are a US voter or simply an interested world citizen, I hope you will too.

Overall word usage:

Individual speakers’ word usage:

(You can find the graphics on the Times’ site here.)

7 Responses to “the power of words”

  1. faemom said

    This was a fascinating post! Thanks for sharing!

  2. hakoon said

    I like those word clouds. You can generate your own here.

  3. J. Antanios Harb said

    It’s not difficult to see from this post who you support – you’ve cut off most of the Republican word use display! It’s unfortunate because it is Sarah Palin who is perhaps the most authentic politician running.

    The graphical representation does show though how obsessed many democrats are with their Republican rivals.

  4. Welcome, Faemom, and thank you! Hakoon, I love the word clouds – I find them fascinating.

    J Antonios, its not difficult to see from your comment that you’re a computer newbie. If you maximize the size of your browser, both parties’ clouds will be fully revealed. Next time you might consider asking a question (“why is it that when I read your post I see the Democrat word cloud but only part of the Republican?”) rather than making an assumption.

  5. intlxpatr said

    LLLOOOLLL, I can see the whole thing, including Palin and McCain! I think the technical term for using word-count and word anomalies is content analysis. I like the graphic the clouds give to indicate weight of individual concepts. And hmmmmm.

    Sigh. Missing you too much.

  6. J. Antanios Harb said

    Yes, indeed you are correct – my apologies!

  7. LetUsTalk said

    very interesting article and also interesting in what we can learn about ourselves and others

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