Bush’s Speech: A Lexical Analysis

Words as words: This is a lexical analysis of George Bush’s speech delivered Sept. 15, 2005, from New Orleans.

Bush used a total of 1,785 words, 929 of them different words. The lexical complexity of the speech was 52 percent, and the readability factor based on the Gunning-Fog Index was 10.6, where 6 is easy and 20 is difficult. The readability factor was 44, where 100 is easy, 20 is difficult and optimal is 60-70.

Bush averaged 1.68 syllables per word and spoke 162 sentences that averaged 20.8 words per sentence. Bush’s longest sentence was 54 words:

We have also witnessed the kind of desperation no citizen of this great and generous nation should ever have to know, fellow Americans calling out for food and water, vulnerable people left at the mercy of criminals who had no mercy and the bodies of the dead lying uncovered and untended in the street.

Bush used mostly short words, 680 three-letter words, and only one 15-letter word. There were no words or phrases repeated at any statistically significant rate in the 20-minute address.

This speech is comparable to most of Bush’s speeches. He tends to rate in the 40s for readability and in the middle of the difficulty factor (except for the State of the Union speech, which was especially difficult to understand). He uses a lot of little words, but significantly, he did not repeat key words or phrases often in this speech, also a departure from the State of the Union address and other policy-oriented elocutions.


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