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Analyzing the Syntax of Presidential Candidates

Blog Post created by nicole.desiato Employee on Oct 4, 2016

Today we're going to take a look at the syntax of our presidential candidates. Kenton Murray, a PhD student at Notre Dame University, analyzed all the presidential candidates speech patterns during the primary debates. He looked at their use of imperatives, indicative and conditional phrases. He also provides visuals for other parts of syntax: syllables, periodic sentences, and sentence types. Kenton provides graphs for each of his analyses. You can read the article here: A Computational Linguistic Analysis of the 2016 Presidential Candidates

 

You can use this with your students in a variety of ways:

  • Jigsaw -- split your students into 3 groups: syllables, periodic sentences, and sentence types. Ask them to analyze and share with their students
  • Writing -- assign your students to write a speech mimicking certain speech patterns, then ask them to read them in front of the class
  • Media -- find clips and transcripts online of the candidate's speeches that Kenton examines. Split your students into groups and assign one to analyze the syntax through listening to the audio, and the other to analyze through reading the transcript. What are the differences in their analysis?

 

If you've done this with your students, let us know in the comments below!

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