Blog Post

Voyant - Analysis of Inauguration Speeches

 

Voyant is a text analysis tool where you can visualize word trends from different corpuses. You can view the trends in word frequency through interactive wordles, charts, and graphs. I put Obama’s (2009) and Trump’s (2017) inauguration speeches into Voyant to compare them. Two of the most prominent words in their speeches were America and people according to the cirrus window on Voyant. America was used much more frequently by Trump than Obama, along with the word people. Trump uses America here: “America will start winning again. America will start winning like never before.” This is an example of Obama using America: “What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.” It was not difficult to find America in the speeches because the word is very prevalent. Each president uses America in different contexts. Obama’s language is more elegant and calls on Americans to work toward being a stronger nation, despite the difficulties that may arise. Trump uses more simplistic language by repeating two very similar sentences about America winning again. Through Voyant you can see that America is used much more by Trump and by looking at the speech again it shows again how often America is used.

 

While exploring Voyant through the inauguration speeches of Obama and Trump I discovered a couple of things. The words used the most in these speeches are mainly America, American, Americans, Nation, and people. While looking at the context tool, Trump’s speech used America twice as much and its usage was directed toward the end of his speech. All of these words apply to the people who the inauguration speech is directed at, the American people. Some other commonly used words are new and today. These words imply that these incoming presidents wish to change nation, they want to create a better nation immediately. By looking at Voyant you could tell that this is an inauguration speech through the heavy usage of America, along with new and today. 

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1 comment

Hi Abby,

So, are you positing that there are certain words that are characteristic of inauguration speeches, and that if you search all speeches for those that contain "America," "new," and "today," and similar words, you should be able to recognize the inauguration speeches by those that contain those words?

Another question: how does your theory that "these words imply that these incoming presidents wish to change nation, they want to create a better nation immediately" hold up when you reread the text of these two inauguration speeches? Look closely at the context of the words you're interested in, like "America," "new," and "today," and find out if your theory is correct. It's important to test the conjectures we make using visualizations by going back into the text and reading to find out if we're right! :)

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