The Deconstructing Econospeak App

I’m a fan of hands-on science. My philosophy is that you don’t really understand something until you play with the data yourself. With that in mind, I’ve made an app that lets you explore the data from my last post, Deconstructing Econospeak.

A brief refresher. In that post, I used a word-counting bot to analyze the language found in undergraduate economics textbooks. The bot returned a word’s frequency in econospeak, as well as the word’s frequency relative to the Google English corpus.

I used the word-counting bot to break econospeak into 4 quadrants, as shown in Figure 1. Here, each point is a word. The horizontal axis shows the word’s frequency in econospeak. The vertical axis shows the word’s frequency relative to the Google corpus.

Figure 1: Quadrants of econospeak. In this plot, each point is a word. The horizontal axis shows word frequency in economics textbooks. The vertical axis shows the word’s frequency relative to the Google corpus. See Deconstructing Econospeak for sources and methods.

Each quadrant of econospeak contains different types of words. The ‘jargon’ quadrant contains words that are used frequently by economists and overused relative to the average. ‘Quirks’ are also overused relative to the average, but appear rarely in economics textbooks. ‘Under-represented’ words are used frequently in econospeak, but less than in average English. Finally, ‘neglected’ words are used rarely in economics textbooks, and this rarity constitutes massive underuse.

I’ve labelled, in Figure 1, some words of interest. But there are about 34,000 other words waiting to be explored. That’s where the Deconstructing Econospeak App comes in. The app lets you search for words that interest you. It will then show you where these words are in the econospeak quadrants. (If a word is missing from econospeak, it will show up in a table, labelled with the word’s percentile in the Google English corpus.)

The Deconstructing Econospeak App. Click the image to try the app.

Once you’ve found words that are interesting, you can download the data and/or the chart. Feel free to share your findings widely.

The default chart is static, which allows faster searching. But if you want to see what words correspond to each point, you can use the Interactive Plot option. You can then hover over a point and the word will be revealed. You can also zoom in and out using the tools on the top right.

The Deconstructing Econospeak App using the Interactive Plot option.

If, after playing with the app, you want to dive deeper into the data, you can download my whole econospeak dataset at the Open Science Framework.

Happy word searching!

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. You can use/share it anyway you want, provided you attribute it to me (Blair Fix) and link to Economics from the Top Down.


I built the Deconstructing Econospeak App using the R Shiny package. It allows you to make beautiful interactive apps with a few lines of code — a scientist’s dream!

If you find a bug in the app, or think of a feature I should add, please leave a comment.

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