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Is anyone really surprised?

 
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12359
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 3:57 pm    Post subject: Is anyone really surprised? Reply with quote

"The changing complexity of congressional speech


Congress now speaks at almost a full grade level lower than it did just seven years ago, with the most conservative members of Congress speaking on average at the lowest grade level, according to a new Sunlight Foundation analysis of the Congressional Record using Capitol Words.

Of course, what some might interpret as a dumbing down of Congress, others will see as more effective communications. And lawmakers of both parties still speak above the heads of the average American, who reads at between an 8th and 9th grade level.

Today’s Congress speaks at about a 10.6 grade level, down from 11.5 in 2005. By comparison, the U.S. Constitution is written at a 17.8 grade level, the Federalist Papers at a 17.1 grade level, and the Declaration of Independence at a 15.1 grade level. The Gettysburg Address comes in at an 11.2 grade level and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is at a 9.4 grade level. Most major newspapers are written at between an 11th and 14th grade level. (You can find more comparisons here)

All these analyses use the Flesch-Kincaid test, which produces the 'reads at a n-th grade level' terminology that is likely familiar to many readers. At its core, Flesch-Kincaid equates higher grade levels with longer words and longer sentences. It is important to understand the limitations of this metric: it tells us nothing about the clarity or correctness of a passage of text. But although an admittedly crude tool, Flesch-Kincaid can nonetheless provide insights into how different legislators speak, and how Congressional speech has been changing.

To see how different legislators rank, click here for a full database of all current members of Congress.

To see how many top SAT words lawmakers speak, click here.

Historical trends

Overall, the complexity of speech in the Congressional Record has declined steadily since 2005, with the drop among Republicans slightly outpacing that for Democrats (see Figure 1). Through April 25, 2012, this year's Congressional Record clocks in at a 10.6 grade level, down from 11.5 in 2005.

Between 1996 and 2005, Republicans overall spoke at consistently 2/10ths of a grade level higher than Democrats, except for 2001, when a rare moment of national unity also seems to have extended to speaking at the same grade level. But following 2005, something happened, and Congressional speech has been on the decline since. For Republicans as a whole, the decline was from an 11.6 grade level to a 10.3 grade level in 2011 (up slightly to 10.4 in 2012 so far). For Democrats, it was a decline from 11.4 to 10.6 in 2011 (also up slightly to 10.8 in 2012 so far.)"

http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2012/05/21/congressional-speech/

Regards,
John
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9376
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Absolutely no surprise, unfortunately. Confused
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9051
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How do these Flesh-Kinkaid tests work exactly?
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12359
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Sasha,


Google and Wiki know:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flesch–Kincaid_readability_test

Regards,
John

P.S. How accurate is it? I have no idea, but since it fits my preconceived notions, it MUST be good Very Happy
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9376
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear John:

I suspect Sasha might have been referring to the 'fleshing' events of the past week or so in the US. Not quite sure how eating someone's face might enable calculations of the length and complexity of the sentences said person would have been able to utter under other circumstances....but it's been all over the international news, in easily comprehensible sentences uttered by newspeople in a variety of languages.....

Best,
spiral

P. S. It fits my preconceived notions as well - in fact, I attended a school which applied these standards way back when. It was a very effective school Very Happy
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12165
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 4:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh Great Johnslat

Are you telling us that your legislators are STUPID ?

Won't they put you in the US equivalent of the Tower of London for having the nerve to say that ?


IRONY ALERT !
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12359
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear scot47,

I'd reply to your comment were I not imprisoned in the US equivalent of the Tower of London (with no computer privileges.)

Regards,
John
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9051
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A copy of the latest New Speak dictionary will be provided for all Congressmen presently.
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Taiwanlight Zone



Joined: 24 Feb 2007
Posts: 23
Location: Danshui, Taiwan

PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2012 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Doubleplus ungood, IMO.
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