Monday, January 20, 2014

Ed Lee's State of the City address measured in words

Posted By on Mon, Jan 20, 2014 at 5:00 AM

click to enlarge A word cloud that was compiled using the text of Mayor Ed Lee's 2014 State of the City address.
  • A word cloud that was compiled using the text of Mayor Ed Lee's 2014 State of the City address.

In political speeches, there are the stated titles to help guide listeners toward the overarching meaning, but there are also the words scattered throughout the speech to build arguments. Luckily for people who may want to delve into the words used by politicians to build up their case, speeches are typically followed by transcripts, allowing for a revisiting of the linguistic blocks upon which the message they conveyed in the speech was built.

Using an online resource, The San Francisco Examiner explored the text of Mayor Ed Lee's 2014 State of the City address, decoding what language he used in the speech that was titled "Jobs, Housing and People: An Affordability Agenda for San Francisco’s Future."

Of the subjects in the title of the address, the most used word was housing, which appeared 39 times during the speech. If homes is included, which appeared 11 times, the topic of residency appeared for a total of 50 times, not even including home (nine times), rent (four times) and apartment (one time). Somewhat related is construction, which appeared 12 times.

The mention of people is a bit trickier to count in the speech. Lee used the word people 35 times. But then he usedfamilies 20 times and family six times — which could be counted toward the people tally.

The word jobs came first in the title of the address, but the word jobs came up just 14 times in the speech. In the same vein, the word wok was used 19 times (both as a verb and a noun) and working 14 times. Along the same line as jobs, though, is economy, which was used three times, and economic, which appeared nine times. The inverse of jobs, of course, is unemployment, which was used four times in the speech.

The final part of the speech's title says the mayor was laying out an affordability agenda. The word affordable appeared 20 times, and affordability was used seven times. 

Moving beyond the title of the address, there are key issues that continually are raised in San Francisco. The perennial issue of Muni surfaced with transportation being mentioned 14 times, Muni three times and transit one time. Related to Muni is the condition of the streets, with the words streets appearing 11 times and street eight times.

Included in the speech was a section about schools, with Lee pledging to increase money to the San Francisco Unified School District. In the speech Lee mentioned school 11 times, schools nine times and education seven times.

And finally, the mayor addressed homelessness in The City, and in doing so used the homeless seven times.

Despite Lee being known for his support of tech in San Francisco, that sector of the booming economy had barely a mention, with the word technology arising six times and the word tech just two times. The words innovate and innovation both received just one mention each.


So how does Lee's 2014 State of the City compare with his 2013 address

Housing appeared 34 times in the mayor's 2013 address, home 11 times, homes three times and rent twice.

In 2013, though, jobs and the economy were a bigger part of the speech. The word jobs appeared 29 times, the word work appeared 23 times, economic 21 times and economy eight times. 

Technology was mentioned more in Lee's 2013 speech. The word technology was used eight times and the word tech appeared five times. In the tech vein, innovation was used seven times in 2013 and innovative appeared three times.

Mentioned once in 2013, but not at all in 2014, was, the 2-year-old nonprofit group that is a booster for technology companies in The City.


Looking even farther back to Lee's 2012 inauguration speech helps to put into context the shift in the words that were used in the mayor's speeches in the last two years.

His inauguration speech did mention housing — just nine times. The word rent was never mentioned.

What was a big part of Lee's inauguration address was innovation, which was used 13 times. In addition, innovative and innovate were both used four times.

And though Lee has recently been painted as a tech supporter from the outset of his administration, the word technology appeared just three times in his inauguration speech, and tech was used just twice. (Though the word techies also slipped into the speech one time.)

The economy and jobs or course were in the inauguration speech. The word jobs was used 11 times, work 10 times, economy four times and the word economic twice.

2014 address

2013 address

Inauguration speech

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