Trump's Speech Analysis
On June 16th, 2015, Donald Trump shocked the world by announcing his presidential campaign. At first, everyone thought it was a joke. I even thought it was a joke. Boy were we wrong. Ever since Trump announced his campaign, he has been leading all the other candidates in support and votes and is still going strong despite all the hateful and ignorant comments he has made throughout his campaign. When we first got assigned this project, I knew the first thing I wanted to do was analyze one of Trumps speeches. A youtuber that goes by the name of Nerdwriter1 uploaded a video on December 30, 2015 that has gained 3 million views. In his 7-minute video he analyzes the way Donald Trump answers a question. The answer he analyzed was to Jimmy Kimmels question; “Isn’t it un-American and wrong to discriminate people based on their religion?” Trump answered the question in 220 words, exactly 1 minute. Nerdwriter1 then goes on to tear apart his answer, looking at the simple language he uses and the way he ends his sentences. Think Process wrote an article “What Language Experts Find So Strange About Donald Trump.” In the Article, they did their own analysis on Trump’s most used words, versus Jeb Bush’s most used words. While Bush’s words are political and “big” with ‘Strategy,’ ‘government,’ ‘American.’ Donald Trump’s words are very different, of the 13 words, Emily Atkin, the author of the article, pointed out that “eight out of his 13 favorite words are one syllable, and the two syllable words are simple — “very,” “China,” and “money.” His only three-syllable favorite word is “Mexico.”
Thinkprocess’s analysis on the way Trump talks was done on a much larger scale, using not only his announcement speech, but also various interviews, and press conferences. So I decided to take only his speech announcing his political candidacy and analyze and compare it to the 2nd runner up in the current primaries Ted Cruz. My goal was to find out how many short words Trump uses, how many times he ends his sentences with “strong punchy words,” something Nerdwriter pointed out in his video. I compared all of my findings from Trump’s speech to Ted Cruz’s speech to see if there was a difference in the way they talk and if that might have something to do with why Trump is in first place and Cruz drifting away in 2nd.
Once I found the transcripts of both speeches, I used a word processor to remove anything that Trump or Cruz didn’t say, like “applause” or “laughter.” Once that was done, I put each one into the digital tool Voyant which creates a nice image that tells you the most common words used in the text.
I looked at Trump’s speech first. His speech in total was 5,567 words. The word I was used 169 times but is not included in the picture because I removed the most common English words.
While Voyant created the lovely image of the most common words used, I needed a tool that can do more. I needed a tool that could count how many syllables he uses and thankfully I found the word counter tool. I found that in his speech, of the 5,567 words, 3,732 were only one syllable words, that’s more than 66 percent of his speech. 1,321 words were 2 syllable words, 23% of his speech, and the rest of the 560 words made up 3 or more syllables. His average word length was 4 characters, which made sense considering 2,435 of his words were considered short words (i.e 3 characters or less) and only 15% of his speech was made up of 7 or more characters. The word counter tool also offers up a Flesh-Kincaid Reading Ease score, and a Flesh-Kincaid Grade level score. Trump scored 72.5 on the latter, and a 5.5 on grade level. The readability tests were created by Rudolf Flesch and J. Peter Kinciad. The first formula is used to calculate the reading ease, and the second is to calculate the grade level.
The follows up with the analysis that the Boston globe did on all the presidential candidates. Trump having the lowest score at a 4th grade level.
On Boston Globes list, Cruz is listed 8.9, so an upper level 8th grader. To start analyzing his speech, I did the same thing as I did for Trump, put it into a word processor and deleted all the words that weren’t Cruz speaking. Ted Cruz’s speech was substantially shorter than Trumps speech, with a total of 2,269 words versus Trump’s 5,567 words. Even though the speech was shorter, I could already tell the difference in the words they used.
Ted Cruz’s words were definitely more ‘political’ then Trump’s. While Trump’s most used word is ‘I’, Cruz’s is ‘imagine’. Cruz still had a large number of 1 syllable words, with 1344, so 59% of his speech. Considering that his speech is much shorter than Trumps, It’s a big improvement. 530 were 2 syllables and 402 were 3 or more. About 41% of his words were short, and 24% were 7 or more characters. While Cruz’s speech was shorter, he still managed to have longer words than Trump. Cruz had a 48.9 Reading Ease score, and a Grade level of 10.5.
With all my results, I came upon the conclusion that the reason Trump is currently leading the republic primaries Is because of the way he speaks. While there wasn’t that much of a difference in syllable count, there was a difference in the types of words used. Trump doesn’t speak like a politician, he speaks like a salesman, one who can sell anything even if they don’t actually know what they are talking about. He implements are the salesmen techniques in his speeches, by repeating words and phrases.
Nerdwriter1. "How Donald Trump Answers A Question." YouTube. YouTube, 30 Dec. 2015. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.
Atkin, Emily. "What Language Experts Find so Strange." Thinkprogress. Thingprogress, 15 Sept. 2015. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.
Swaim, Barton. "How Donald Trump’s Language Works for Him." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 15 Sept. 2015. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.
Viser, Matt. "For Presidential Hopefuls, Simpler Language Resonates." Boston Globe. Globe Media Partners, 20 Oct. 2015. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.