Tracing Incitement or Signaling through Terminology

Elsewhere, a comment had been made on on the terminology used by diplomats for the Persian Gulf as incitement or signaling to Iran. As a hypothesis, this is both novel and easily testable. There are ample opportunities to quickly mine the online texts, such as the Department of Defense’s online transcripts, as a corpus of fourteen years of policy.  The DoD list, as described by the departments, includes ‘all DOD news briefings and significant interviews.’ [1]

For the sake of time, I have parsed out all instances of the terms ‘Arab Gulf,’ ‘Arabian Gulf,’ ‘Persian Gulf,’ and ‘the Gulf.’ The terms were searched in a case sensitive manner, relying on the understanding of the transcriber as a means to avoid picking up general use of the term ‘gulf.’ One other caveat is that this doesn’t distinguish between reporters’ questions and official statements, however, I think the former is infrequent. Lastly, the quantity is based on occurrences rather than speeches. The original dataset is available in Google Docs. [2]

There is a clear and consistent trend to use the term ‘the Gulf,’ while the tendency to use ‘Persian Gulf’ has lessened across time. April 2003 and February 2000-February  2001 represent the periods where ‘Arabian Gulf’ found its greatest use.