Trump talks like a woman
Posted: 27 October 2016 06:39 AM   [ Ignore ]
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No idea what to make of this Politico piece. The Author writes:

… academic research has picked up something that thousands of hours of campaign punditry has missed completely: Donald Trump talks like a woman. He might be preoccupied with grading women’s looks, penis size and “locker room talk,” but the way he speaks and the actual words he uses make for a distinctly feminine style.

For example, contrary to the common stereotype that men can’t resist talking about themselves, women are heavier users than men of the pronoun “I” whereas the reverse is true for the pronoun “we”; women produce more common verbs (are, start, went) and auxiliary verbs (am, don’t, will), while men utter more articles (a, the) and prepositions (to, with, above); women use fewer long words than men when speaking or writing across a broad range of contexts.

the article is written by Julie Sedivy who has taught linguistics and psychology at Brown University and the University of Calgary, and is the co-author of Sold on Language: How Advertisers Talk to You and What This Says About You.

[Edit: fixed URL --DRW]

[ Edited: 27 October 2016 09:45 AM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 27 October 2016 06:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Slate’s Heather Schwedel has a good response:

This study doesn’t seem to have taken into account voice, tone, gestures, facial expressions, emphasis, and all of the other nonverbal things that come together to create the speechifying entity that is Donald Trump. And that’s all before the content of his messages, which also don’t scan as particularly feminine. He may check off a lot of feminine linguistic boxes, but he doesn’t sound like a woman. He’s sui generis: He sounds like Donald Trump.

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Posted: 27 October 2016 08:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The link in your first posting is set up as a “mailto:” link.

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Posted: 27 October 2016 08:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Yes, I can’t speak to the original article, lacking the requisite linguistic credentials, but I think Ms Schwedel is right, Trump sounds like Trump.

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Posted: 27 October 2016 09:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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The Politico piece is based on a study by a grad student, but provides no link to it. (My guess is that it hasn’t been published, which wouldn’t be surprising for a study on such a current issue.) So there’s no way to evaluate how valid it is. The ranking of Trump as most feminine is based on a ratio of “feminine”:"masculine" speech characteristics. But we don’t know what these characteristics are or how they were combined to create a single ratio.

Then there is the fact that no indication is provided as to where all these politicians fall in relation to the population in general. It could be that politicians tend toward more “masculine” speech patterns, and that might place Trump right in the middle of where most men in the general population fall. It also doesn’t take into account that a lot of political speech is scripted and ghostwritten. (Not a lot of Trump’s speech, to be sure, but that could be another reason why he sounds different from other politicians.) In short, you can’t tell anything from what has been provided in the Politico article.

My prediction is that as soon as someone at Language Log gets their hands on the original study the findings will be ripped to shreds.

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Posted: 27 October 2016 10:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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According to the first sentence in the 10th paragraph, the research was presented at a conference.  Typically such presentations cover unpublished research (people don’t go to conferences to hear last year’s research) although often the work is “in press”: accepted and awaiting publication.  Except for a few keynote speakers (an unlikely honor for a graduate student) whose talks might be published as full transcripts, conference proceedings usually contain only abstracts of the presentations.  If the proceedings are available online (likely, but typically only to members of the association) you might find a little more detail about how the work was done.

Of course, some work presented at conferences is never heard of again; results are often preliminary and don’t pan out.  It’s happened in my own research, and I’ve wasted months to years, summed over my career, trying to follow up on work that others presented at conferences and never formally published.

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Posted: 27 October 2016 08:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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And then there’s McWhorter at Vox:

That is, Trump’s speech isn’t feminine — it’s artless. Calling his speech ladylike is like calling a cat canine because, like a dog, it gives birth to live young: There is so very much more that goes into making a dog, or, in this case, a Trump.

The linguistic analysis of female versus male speech is interesting in itself. But let’s face it: When Trump brags about a certain kind of grabbing “by the…”, the fact that “by” is a preposition and “the” is an article is a mere whisper in the maleness of the sentiment.

John McWhorter, a linguist, is an associate professor of English and comparative literature

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Posted: 27 October 2016 09:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Would a fan of Trump have said this?

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Posted: 28 October 2016 01:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Of course, some work presented at conferences is never heard of again; results are often preliminary and don’t pan out. 

Or the distinguished keynote speaker, who doesn’t specially need another publication to add to his list, never actually gets round to submitting his final text - so that all the lesser-known ones, who do, are thwarted. I’ve had that happen to papers of mine, and also I once worked for an archaeological publisher, which had a volume of conference papers in the ‘coming soon’ section of its list for at least four years while the director tried to cajole the great Professor X to come up with his paper, in however abbreviated a form. I moved on eventually and I don’t know if it ever did appear.

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Posted: 28 October 2016 03:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I wonder what woman he sounds like.

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Posted: 29 October 2016 10:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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had a volume of conference papers in the ‘coming soon’ section of its list for at least four years while the director tried to cajole the great Professor X to come up with his paper,

To be fair, he was probably busy fighting the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

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Posted: 29 October 2016 04:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I wonder what woman he sounds like.

Rosie O’Donnell

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