Quantcast
Connect with us

Your political views can predict how you pronounce certain words, study finds

Published

on

Politics can predict the TV shows we watch, the shops we frequent and the places we live.

But what about the way we speak?

In a recent study, I was able to show how your political orientation can influence how you pronounce certain words.

How members of America’s two parties view the country – and its place in the world – might explain this phenomenon.

ADVERTISEMENT

A tale of two presidents

You may have noticed President Donald Trump has a unique way of saying the names of foreign places.

For example, he’s pronounced “Tanzania” as “tan-zay-nee-uh,” as opposed to “tan-zuh-nee-uh,” and “Namibia” as “nam-bee-uh” instead of “na-mih-bee-uh.”

At the other end of the spectrum, President Barack Obama was a “stickler” for saying foreign words in a way that more closely mimicked the pronunciation of native speakers. He was even thanked for it: Pakistanis reportedly expressed appreciation to the White House for his pronunciation of “Pakistan” as “pock-ee-stahn,” rather than using a pronunciation like “pack-iss-stan.”

My own research has found that this pronunciation difference isn’t relegated to presidents. Speakers who identify as Democrats are likelier to use these kinds of pronunciations of foreign words than those who identify as Republicans.

A speech pattern emerges

In my study, I had participants read random sentences out loud, some of which included the names of foreign places, and others that included English words borrowed from foreign languages.

ADVERTISEMENT

Then I asked them questions about their political identities, views and opinions. I compared their responses to these questions with their pronunciations.

I found that, when compared with Republicans, Democrats are more likely to pronounce

  • “Iraq” as “ear-rock,” rather than “eye-rack”
  • “Chile” as “chee-lay,” rather than “chill-ee”
  • “Muslim” as “moose-limb,” rather than “muzz-lum”
  • “spiel” as “shpeel,” rather than “speel”
  • “foyer” as “foy-ay,” rather than “foy-er.”

In each case, Democrats pronounced the words in ways that mimicked the way native speakers would say them. For example, pronouncing “spiel” – which comes from German – as “shpeel” more closely replicates how the word is said in Germany.

ADVERTISEMENT

Why does this happen and why does it matter?

Today’s Republicans and conservatives tend to align more strongly with an ideology of nationalism.

ADVERTISEMENT

This term has been used more in political discourse over the past few years, often in ways that aren’t clearly defined.

In social psychology, however, this ideological bent can have multiple dimensions.

Someone who’s more “ardently nationalist” might believe that diversity makes it more difficult for a nation to have a shared identity. They’re also more likely to believe their nation is superior to others.

ADVERTISEMENT

Democrats are less likely than Republicans to identify as ardently nationalist. Someone who’s less nationalistic also tends to have more interest or willingness to interact with foreign people, places or cultures.

This difference may explain the political pronunciation pattern: In my study, Democrats usually scored lower on a nationalism scale. And this score correlated with speakers’ pronunciations, too.

So Democrats are often more receptive and accommodating to foreign people and cultures. And the way they pronounce foreign words reflects this attitude.

In cognitive linguistics research, we see this pattern a lot: People tend to speak more like others when they have more positive attitudes toward them.

ADVERTISEMENT

Perhaps that’s why Obama was thanked for pronouncing “Pakistan” more like how Pakistanis do. It wasn’t for anything specifically political. The Pakistanis simply reacted in the way someone who hears their name spelled or pronounced the way they prefer would react; they heard it as a sign of respect.The Conversation

By Zachary Jaggers, Postdoctoral Scholar of Linguistics, University of Oregon

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

ADVERTISEMENT

Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump’s latest and most ludicrous con job

Published

on

Donald Trump is con artist in chief of the United States. His many apparent and impeachable crimes, such as the Ukraine scandal, collusion with Russia and violations of the Emoluments Clause, flow from that fact. Of course, Trump’s long con involves millions and perhaps even billions of dollars. But Trump’s big score, his ultimate goal, is permanent control of the presidency of the United States and the power for him and his family and allies to engage in legal theft indefinitely.

This article first appeared on Salon.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

I was an impeachment skeptic. Here’s why I’m now convinced Trump must be removed

Published

on

Despite all the uncertainty surrounding impeachment, we can capture the current moment succinctly: President Trump’s fate hinges on whether Republican senators are more fearful of losing in a primary or in the general election. Now that the live impeachment hearings are about to fuel nationwide prime-time programming, those senators’ fears are likely to intensify.

While that dynamic will determine whether Trump will be removed from office, it doesn’t tell us whether he should be.  I am generally an impeachment skeptic. My recent book—Impeaching the President: Past, Present, Future—argues that impeachment should be regarded as a last resort that, as a general proposition, is inappropriate in a president’s first term.  The American people are capable of rendering judgment and should be given the first crack.

Continue Reading
 

Facebook

Nicolle Wallace tells Colbert why she cursed at Fox News host Laura Ingraham — and that she left the GOP

Published

on

MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace appeared on Stephen Colbert's "Late Show" Wednesday after spending hours analyzing the impeachment hearings that began that morning.

One of the first things Colbert asked about was the recent smackdown from Wallace about Fox News host Laura Ingraham and her guests going after Col. Alexander Vindman. Ingraham proposed that because Vindman was born in Ukraine that he was somehow a traitor to the United States for coming forward about President Donald Trump's admitted crimes.

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1 and go ad-free.
close-image