2020欧洲杯时间The fourth Republican debate was, in terms of content, an exploration of the future of the United States economy. Linguistically, however, it was a bit of a throwback. Several of the candidates used words and phrases that can strike the modern ear as a bit antiquated.
Drawing on language we're more likely to see in the Bible than in a contemporary political context, Ben Carson referred once again to his tax plan based upon the Biblical system of tithing, or paying a tenth of what you have to the church. Carson had introduced tithe in the first debate as well, which our relevancy tracker2020欧洲杯时间 picked up on immediately.
Carson is leading the polls, widely admired for his low-key, "anti-politician" personality, but by calling his flat ten percent tax idea tithing, he's making a political statement directed at Christian conservatives…via vocabulary!
When Senator Ted Cruz described the "armies of regulators that have descended like locusts2020欧洲杯时间 on small businesses," he created a very effective image that can’t help but recall the Exodus story of the ten plagues inflicted on Egypt. As with Carson, Cruz was using the language from the Bible to connect himself to Christians and Christian conservatives, calling attention to his religious faith within the context of economic policy.
There was nothing religious about Donald Trump's use of the word stratum, or "level," when discussing the possibility of workers who make the minimum wage being able to improve their standing. Stratum's been around in English since 1590. With its -um ending, derived from Latin but rare in English, stratum immediately lends its user a sense of gravitas.
Other words ending in -um, like podium, consortium, and the singular of data, datum, have that ancient, Middle English ring as well, but don't hold your breath waiting to hear them from Trump. He's better known for using a basic businessman's vocabulary than for the revitalization of unusual words — though he did reach for the stars in the second Republican debate with braggadocious and remains, from a vocabulary perspective, a man to watch.
Trump, Cruz, and Carson weren't the only candidates using language suggestive of an earlier era. Governor John Kasich, citing his executive leadership of Ohio through two terms in office said, "I've done it twice; I'll do it thrice for the United States of America."
Thrice is to three what twice is to two — it means "three times." But while twice is common, thrice has become unusual and conjures fairy tales in which it's the third sister or the third metal or the third trip into the woods where the story gets interesting. Wishes in this world are always granted in threes, but maybe Kasich woke up this morning with just the one... that he could reverse time and say, "I've done it twice; I'll do it one more time for the United States of America"? Or maybe like Cruz and Carson signalling their Christian identity, Kasich used thrice intentionally, making a play for the Renaissance Fair vote.
Speaking of the Renaissance Fair, candidates seemed eager to assure their audience that they're as clear about who their enemies are today as they might have been in an era when knights set out to vanquish easily identifiable foes. For the second time in these debates, Senator Marco Rubio referred to the leader of Russia, Vladimir Putin as a gangster. Senator Ted Cruz referred to the members of the Senate, as he has several times on the campaign trail, as the "Washington cartel." But no group came off quite so poorly as philosophers.
No fewer than three Republican candidates used some form of the word philosopher negatively. Marco Rubio suggested that "we need more welders and fewer philosophers," Kasich declared that "philosophy doesn't work when you run something," and Ted Cruz characterized Federal Reserve Bank leadership as "a series of philosopher-kings trying to guess what's happening with the economy," calling out a concept that dates back to Plato in origin.
Perhaps the disparagement of philosopher was a subtle dig at President Barack Obama, known for a wonky style. Or perhaps it was just a lexical distractor from otherwise dry policy-focused debate. The top ten most relevant words found by our list builder reveal the debate's nature, giving us cronyism, specificity, meritocracy, repeal, underlay, innovator, conservative, and deduction, as well as both regulatory and regulation. No wonder the evening called out for the drama of Old Testament/knights-in-shining-armor words.
Adam Cooper studied linguistics at Brandeis University and The University of Chicago. Since 2010, he has been working with The Endangered Language Alliance in New York City on documentation and preservation projects.Click here to read other articles by Adam Cooper
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