Got a News Tip for NaturalNews? Send us your news tip, and we'll investigate!

The changing complexity of congressional speech

Posted: May 22, 2012 |   Comments

Congress now speaks at almost a full grade level lower than it did
just seven years ago, with the most conservative members of Congress
speaking on average at the lowest grade level, according to a new
Sunlight Foundation analysis of the Congressional Record using Capitol Words.
Of course, what some might interpret as a dumbing down of Congress,
others will see as more effective communications. And lawmakers of both
parties still speak above the heads of the average American, who reads at between an 8th and 9th grade level.
Today's Congress speaks at about a 10.6 grade level, down from 11.5
in 2005. By comparison, the U.S. Constitution is written at a 17.8 grade
level, the Federalist Papers at a 17.1 grade level, and the Declaration
of Independence at a 15.1 grade level. The Gettysburg Address comes in
at an 11.2 grade level and Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech
is at a 9.4 grade level. Most major newspapers are written at between an
11th and 14th grade level. (You can find more comparisons here)
All these analyses use the Flesch-Kincaid test, which produces the
'reads at a n-th grade level' terminology that is likely familiar to
many readers. At its core, Flesch-Kincaid equates higher grade levels
with longer words and longer sentences. It is important to understand
the limitations of this metric: it tells us nothing about the clarity or
correctness of a passage of text. But although an admittedly crude
tool, Flesch-Kincaid can nonetheless provide insights into how different
legislators speak, and how Congressional speech has been changing.

Read the whole story:

Have a Comment? Share it...

comments powered by Disqus