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Republicans and Democrats in Congress Speak in Completely Different Languages

Jul 22 2016

Posted In:

Faculty, In the Press

Republicans and Democrats aren’t just polarized on policy. To an unprecedented degree, they also speak different languages. That is the conclusion of three economists who used computers to parse 136 years of transcripts of congressional speeches. They identified phrases used disproportionately by members of one party or the other, and tested the degree to which use of those “partisan phrases” accurately predicted the affiliation of a member of Congress — in other words, the degree to which Republicans and Democrats effectively have a language of their own. They found that language polarization skyrocketed in the mid-1990s, when Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole led Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress.