What is Kevin Saying?

by Stubborn Mule on 18 August 2009 · 26 comments

Last week, Politico published an analysis of Barack Obama’s language. The words he used most often were “America”, “Health” and “Economy” (Politico included “American” in the count along with “America”). This prompts the obvious question: what are the favourite words of our own Kevin Rudd?

Fortunately, the prime minster’s website publishes transcripts of all Kevin’s public utterances (although this does not include his speeches in parliament). There is a lot there and the Stubborn Mule was lucky enough to have OldFuzz do the hard work, assembling over 400 pages of text constituting Kevin Rudd’s speeches from 2009. If he has the time and inclination, prior years may follow. And here is what it looks like as a word cloud.

Kevin Rudd word cloud

It is no surprise that, just as Barrack Obama is fond of saying “America” and “American”, so too Kevin Rudd likes to say “Australia” and “Australian”. He also throws in “Australians” reasonably frequently. It seems in keeping with his public servant mandarin style that Rudd uses the word “Government” more liberally than does Obama. While “global”, “world”, “national”,  “economy” and “economic” are all appropriately big-picture words for a prime minister to be using.

There are a few intriguing words looming from the cloud. It seems that Mr Rudd says “also” a lot. Given that this analysis is case sensitive*, we can also glean that Rudd frequently starts his sentences with the word “Building”.  It may seem fleeting strange that the word “cent” appears so prominently, but then again it is matched in size by the word “per”, so we are just seeing common use of “per cent” not some homespun wisdom about watching the small denominations of money.

So, peruse the cloud at your leisure and make of it what you will. Of course, please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

UPDATE: an abridged version of this post has appeared on The Punch.

* Here is a case-insensitive version of the word cloud.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 CV August 18, 2009 at 2:31 pm

very interesting Mule. Seems Rudd’s not so afraid of the word “billion” after all. However, as he won Office largely on the back of his green credentials, it’s unfortunate that “climate” or “change” aren’t visible….

2 Mark L August 18, 2009 at 3:15 pm

The difference in use of “government” by Obama and Rudd probably stems from the difference in the structure of government, in particular the separation of the executive and legislative branches in the US, which would lead to Obama saying “administration” in many places where Rudd says “government”.

3 stubbornmule August 18, 2009 at 3:23 pm

Mark: you make a good point about the different structure of government here and in the US. Although it’s interesting to see that “Government” ranks fairly high in Obama’s list (about 6th), but I cannot see “administration” there at all.

4 OldFuzz August 18, 2009 at 4:17 pm

Cant see “sorry” – - oh but that was last year; cant see gay or lesbian, not too many “muslim” nor “America” & not one “China”?

5 APJ August 18, 2009 at 6:22 pm

where’s “working families”? I want to see the private list with all the swear words

6 stubbornmule August 18, 2009 at 6:30 pm

APJ: if you get hold of the private list, I will analyze it!

7 THe 327th Male August 19, 2009 at 10:48 am

If you also want to include the text of what he says in parliament, check out Open Australia. They have an API and xml data for you to peruse as well.

8 Lettuce All Rejoice August 19, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Are you able to do a breakdown into nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives?

As would be expected the most frequent words here are nouns. It would be interesting to see what are the most frequent action and descriptive words.

It would be even more interesting if this was done for Malcolm Turnbull as well so we could compare.

9 Lettuce All Rejoice August 19, 2009 at 1:30 pm

FYI, I linked here, for the first time, from http://www.crikey.com.au today.

10 dan August 19, 2009 at 7:09 pm

disappointed not to see “in due season” feature more prominently:


11 Bill Mitchell August 19, 2009 at 7:50 pm

Beautiful graph Sean with beautiful colours. Sadly, not beautiful rhetoric though.

I couldn’t find full employment – even when I increased the size of the picture. Still some of the words remained too small to read but then if they appear at that point they reflect the priority – next to zero.

best wishes

12 ozciompi August 19, 2009 at 9:28 pm

You know something?
(OK … Havent heard that too much lately … during the election it was Kev’s pet way of changing the subject)

Guess what
( Kev’s way of showing that he really, no honestly, really really, is a genuine all-round nice guy.)

… in fact just about everything that Kev says seems to be scripted by an advertising consultant.

13 timothy watson August 19, 2009 at 11:09 pm

“On the question of” words, you have to “ask the question” why doesn’t question appear in the above list?

Old Kev is very fond of asking himself questions afterall.

14 stubbornmule August 20, 2009 at 9:42 am

I have now added a word cloud for Malcolm Turnbull. I am nothing if not balanced.

15 stubbornmule August 20, 2009 at 10:01 am

Lettuce All Rejoice: I will investigate the question of usage of nouns, verbs, etc. Stay tuned.

16 Lettuce All Rejoice August 20, 2009 at 8:12 pm

Thanks right down to my balsamic sox, Mule, I am curly with curiosity..

17 stubbornmule August 21, 2009 at 9:54 am

Lettuce All Rejoice: here is a first cut of Kevin Rudd’s verbs. Turnbull will follow.

18 stubbornmule August 21, 2009 at 6:56 pm

And here is the Turnbull verb cloud.

19 Amanda August 27, 2009 at 12:49 pm

I think these pieces are intriguing. Though, wouldn’t it be better, and more effective, to represent those word clouds in a graph? With the words along the bottom and the usage on the vertical axis. I think your point would be presented much stronger than while the words are represented in a confusing ‘word cloud’

20 stubbornmule August 27, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Amanda: There’s no doubt that there’s an element of form over function in the word cloud. Having said that, believe it or not, the cloud above includes the top 800 words in terms of usage. While I’ll admit that some of them are a bit too small to read, even 100 words would be a bit unwieldy in a standard bar chart. Overall, I would say that the word cloud does effectively invite casual browsing, but I wouldn’t argue that it is a tool for rigorous analysis.

21 Ma sealake August 20, 2010 at 5:44 pm

1. Kevin Rudd would not be ousting if Bob McMullan (MP) informed “Health Olympic Australia Development”.
Short after Bob McMullan MP – Interview from Sunday Profile by Monica Attard on 19 February this year: (……..There are major things that I’ve put in place like the strategy about assistance for people with disabilities in developing countries. We’ve got a terrific strategy out there which people around the world have been very kindly saying is the world leading strategy about it. Now we’ve got to put some flesh on the bones – we’ve got to do it. So I want by the time I leave to have the first stages of the concrete implementation plan underway……”.
Two letters suggest Support for a “Health Olympic Australia” Future Fellowship sent to Bob McMullan MP on March this year, with no replied.
It’s a missed opportunity that how important to “BOB MCMULLAN’s value of the idea strategy of a “Health Olympic Australia” not to inform to the then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to commit a strong national project to benefit Australian people, then to get all voters behind the government to win the up coming election.
There are also questionable how Bob McMullan MP’ idea strategy to support people with disabilities in developing countries without the first priority strategy to support the people with disabilities in Australia first, then to apply the successes experience afterward?
There are also questionable how Bob McMullan MP’ idea strategy to support people with disabilities in developing countries without a strong financial and strong intellectual creative resources supported Australian government?
Ma kee wai
(Member of Inventor Association Queensland since 1993)
Bob McMullan MP 23 March 2010
Dear Bob,
RE: Support for a “Health Olympic Australia” Future Fellowship
I met you in Gungahlin Golf Club sometime ago at the end of meeting chapped with you relating my patent commcialization during my succefully conducted of “China Study” Clinical Trial in Zhuhai Technology Park Guangdong China from 2007-2009.
“Health Olympic Australia” is a nationally and international significant movement in the 21 century “knowledge economy” in “Health Economy Gold Rush”:
● By pass all economy in human history that benefit to every habitant on earth;
● All habitant must to face either lost, or to win;
● The dead lock situation either lost health supply, or getting enough supply to win the battle of health demands in health rebuilding in her/his own right efforts to achieve wealth creation.
There are at least five economic productivity outcomes will resulting significant GDP progressing from a “Health Olympic Australia” as follow:
1. Reductions in Australian Health Workforce cost;
2. Reduction in Healthcare cost;
3. Reduction in lost productivity cost;
4. Increase from agriculture outcome;
5. Increase from “Health Olympic Australia” creation in goods/products exportation.
Australia people will fill the miss opportunity to them should it exist today in the worldwide fast growing “knowledge Economic” in a “Health Economy” soon, if not to discover the “Preventive Health” action from the root base idea of a “Health Olympic Australia” for them.
Ma kee wai
(Member of Inventor Association Queensland since 1993)

22 Ma sealake September 12, 2010 at 9:41 pm

What time bombs will rock Australia democratic society?

The Australia historical hung parliament demonstrated the big gap of inequality society between the small educated elite groups who get highest pay by talk feast used mouth work controlling live essential resources of the country in every social platforms against the biggest less educated groups who get lowest pay by hands work squeezed by discriminative policies that sucking live blood from poor/less wealth off?

Voters’ voices do not hear?
Voters’ pains do not ease?
Voters’ cries do not care?

1. Poverty will not be phase out if no fairer resources to share;
2. Illness will not be reducing if no preventive measurement in real action;
3. Agriculture will not be revitalize if urbanization continuing its path;
4. Housing affordability will not be reach for young generation if government continues cashing from young generation debt by eating out the whole cake of education export revenue without plough back;
5. Manufacture industry will shrink smaller and smaller if no new elements there to power up to survive;
6. Employability will not in the sustainable mode for so long as manufacture and agriculture not going to boost.

Ma kee wai
(Member of Inventor Association Queensland since 1993)

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