State of the Union: The rise of 'we'

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Prepared with the help of Professor Iwan Morgan of the Institute for the Study of the Americas, a commentary is available on the BBC news website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12266198 on words that prominently feature in every US presidential State of the Union message. As President Barack Obama prepares to address Congress, here is an analysis of the ups and downs of the 10 nouns and adjectives (and one pronoun) used most often since 1790. The most commonly used words are "the" and "of", followed by "to", "and", "in", "a" and "that"- and so on. The word "we" is the 19th most commonly used word, and "government" the 30th. We have omitted the word "states" (32nd most common, used 6,560 times) because it is mostly paired with "united" (40th most common, used 4,900 times).

Other nouns and adjectives omitted include: "year", "years", "great", "time" and "present".