Saturday, January 10, 2009

Word Salad


I chanced upon this little illustration on a BBC News item: Words that Sum up the Bush Presidency.

They, or a computer, took the words he used in the state of the Union addresses over the term of his presidency and left out little words like of and that and the. The more frequently a word is used the bigger it is. So we could say that for Bush people of America must.

It is not really clear what the American people must do but it clearly has very little to do with rights, lives, building, or liberties. Women, Medicare, relief, funding, or opportunity also scores really low.

But the thing which hit me is he gave eight speeches of about an hour in length each and there are maybe a 100 to 150 words is this image? My dog training book tells me that my oodles (a standard poodle and a labradoodle) should be able to master the meanings of 125 to 150 words. That makes them smarter than the 43rd president of the United States.

Another article of a related nature I read said that GW's speeches were generally on a 3rd to 4th grade level of understanding (because of how many kids no child left behind left behind?) while President-elect Barack Obama's speeches are generally on a 9th grade level (must be dumbing it down for a wider audience from his college lecture days) while most newspapers are written on a 6th grade reading level in part because people can understand orally (not unlike my ooodles) more than they can read or write.

Some interesting points to ponder I think.