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News | Feb. 25, 2019

Owl in the Olive Tree post on "Language Patterns in International Relations"

By Leah Windsor

Minerva-funded researcher Leah Windsor's Owl in the Olive Tree blog post on "Language Patterns in International Relations".

"Language, and the meaning behind it, represents an ongoing challenge to understanding the intentions of others. How can we know if a leader is making a credible threat, or just bluffing? When do leaders’ words signal their longevity in office, or the stability or popularity of their regime? How can language provide insight into opaque political environments, like dictatorships? How can we infer culture from language, and clarify biases in existing paradigms? What language is likely to attract and persuade individuals to radicalize? The use of text-as-data (i.e., computational discourse analysis) is evolving in its efforts to answer such pressing questions about international relations.

"The North Korean regime, for example, periodically makes threatening statements, and occasionally carries through with them; sometimes these statements are intended for international adversaries, but sometimes they are directed toward an internal audience. We can evaluate patterns by analyzing linguistic content or style. Content refers to the topics a speaker includes in a speech or document; style refers to the manner in which they are delivered. Both approaches provide insight into patterns of conflict and cooperation...."

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