Texas Boasts Congressfolk With Biggest… Lexicon?!

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Two members of the Texas Congressional delegation were named to the list of representatives with the biggest vocabularies last week, proving yet again that everything really is bigger in Texas.

The analysis, titled “Words With Reps,” was conducted by New York-based consultant Dan Kozikowski, who used the Congressional record to analyze word diversity, difficulty of vocabulary, and other metrics. We are happy to report that Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee led the list and far outscored all 434 other House members with her abundance of SAT words in a veritable landslide. Republican Ron Paul also made the Top 10 list, which is as follows:

1. Sheila Jackson Lee, (D-TX): 4.79

2. Christopher H. Smith, (R-NJ): 2.98

3. Dennis Kucinich, (D-OH): 1.00

4. Steve King, (R-IA): 0.99

5. Barney Frank, (D-MA): 0.97

6. Charles Rangel, (D-NY): 0.95

7. John Conyers, (D-MI): 0.92

8. Ronald Ernest Paul, (R-TX): 0.87

9. Steny Hoyer, (D-MD): 0.84

10. Marcy Kaptur, (D-OH): 0.84

Interestingly enough, #3 Kucinich and #10 Kaptur were drawn into the same Congressional district and are now squaring off in a primary that arguably could be best decided by a spelling contest.

In case you're wondering, while 70% of the top 10 are Democrats, the analysis demonstrated that on the whole, Republicans have better vocabulary than Democrats, but that Democrats say more obscure words than the Republicans. (Must be obscure words like “fund education” or “tax the rich” or “extend unemployment benefits.” I digress.)

Of course, Texas is proud to be home to Congress's #1 sesquipedalian. We've always known her to be loquacious, so it's fitting that her effulgent verbosity is also some of the most heterogeneous. From The Hill:

Jackson Lee, an avid reader, told us in a phone chat that when she talks, she tries to speak from the heart: “I don't study the dictionary, though I love the idea of the written language and the spoken word, because I believe it's important to explain to the people just what you're doing.”

When asked if she was surprised by her new title as Capitol Hill's vocab queen, the congresswoman replied, “It sure shocked me,” before adding with a laugh, “Now I have this burden of going on the [House] floor and not making any mistakes!”


About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Central Texas. She is also a fan of UCONN women's basketball and breakfast tacos.

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