Your political views can predict how you pronounce certain words | 5/18/2015 | Staff
tiazanne (Posted by) Level 3
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Politics can predict the TV shows we watch, the shops we frequent and the places we live.

But what about the way we speak?

Study - Orientation - Words

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.

President - Donald - Trump - Way - Names

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."

End - Spectrum - President - Barack - Obama

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.

Study - Participants - Sentences - Loud - Names

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.

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

Iraq - Ear-rock - Chile - Chee-lay - Muslim

"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...
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