April 2009 General Conference – Word Stats

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Based on word count, what was the focus of April 2009 General Conference?  Before you scroll down, see if you can guess the top 3 words that were used.
OK, here goes.  This list is not comprehensive, but it’s a great start.  If you want more stats, do your own research!
Did you guess right?
  1. The number one word used was Christ – 533 references (14.6 per talk)!
  2. Families or Children – 322 mentions (8.5 per talk)
  3. Priesthood – 189 mentions (5 per talk)
There’s a pretty big drop between the first and second.  Clearly Christ was a key topic.  Did you guess Temples would be in there?  I think that one talk mentioned it about 5,280 times alone.  But perhaps not.  Here are the rest of the top 10 by word count:
4.  Temples – 184 times (4.8 per talk)
5.  Men & Fathers – 169 times (4.5 per talk)
6.  Faith – 157 times (4.1 per talk)
7.  Prayer – 157 times (4.1 per talk) tied with Faith
8.  Women & Mothers – 135 times (3.6 per talk) – a little disturbing that they placed so much lower than men & Priesthood maybe
9.  Love – 115 times (3.0 per talk)
10.  Adversity/Challenges – 101 times (2.7 per talk)
Other topics mentioned more than 1 time per talk:
11.  Missionaries – 68 times (1.8 per talk)
12.  Service – 60 times (1.6 per talk)
13.  Scrpitures – 58 times (1.5 per talk)
14.  Revelation – 54 times (1.4 per talk)
15.  Youth – 50 times (1.3 per talk)
16.  Food Storage/Preparedness – 43 times (1.1 per talk)
And bringing up the rear, these were mentioned less than one time per talk, but multiple references:  Sacrifice (43x), Obedience (30x), Education (28x), Eternal Life (26x), Debt/Money (24x), Hope (24x), Baptism (22x), Angels/Spirits (21x), Temptation (20x), Courage (19x), Sacrament (19x), Humility (17x), Book of Mormon (17x).
So, were any of these surprising to you?  Were some higher on the list than you expected?  Were some lower?  How did this compare with previous GCs?  What do you expect to change in future GCs?

Comments 20

  1. “Women & Mothers – 135 times (3.6 per talk) – a little disturbing that they placed so much lower than men & Priesthood maybe”

    …Actually I think that women tend to be a-more faithful and b-have a lot more support in church than men do so it would seem to me to be more reasonable to see Men&Fathers higher. But it is interesting that Christ, Family and Priesthood would top this list when debt/money is way down that list. I think that they are actually concentrating on what is most important to the Church worldwide: Christ as the keystone, Families for today and the future, Priesthood to actually run the church.

  2. 1 – Interesting points, although I think it’s less planful than that implies. I think it just happens, perhaps based on what the current themes are under discussion at church HQ.

    2 – Women’s conf was not included, although I was not the one who compiled it. I got it from another site. Wouldn’t be too hard to do, but why reinvent the wheel?

  3. 1) Proves how little we talk about Christ – NOT! Really, I get tired of hearing how you’d never know we are a Christian church based on our talks – especially when someone includes GC in those statements.

    2) Doesn’t surprise me at all. Should be #2.

    3) I assume this included the Priesthood session. I’d like to see the stats without the Priesthood session – and/or with the Women’s General Session. Since the current difference between “men & fathers” and “women & mothers” is essentially once per talk, and since the talks included include those given explicitly to the men and exclude those given explicitly to the women, I’m fairly certain the numbers would be even with a simple adjustment to reflect all the talks in all the sessions.

  4. I am rather glad that a group of old men doesn’t have as much to say on women and mothers as they do on men and priesthood.

  5. Could you please address methodology? I assume you used a software package?

    I would have expected that the most common word was “a” or “the.” How did you exclude words and what words were excluded?

  6. Kent – this was taken from another site, not my own research. Just based on my own observation, I would assume that this was probably done using a word count in Word from cut & pasted talks, so far less scientific than you imply. I imagine the themes were just based on an eye scan of the material at what words jumped out as repetitive. Again, I really don’t know for sure.

    Another view that would have been interesting is to determine the sources for the quotes that were used and how often those were: scriptural, other church authorities, or non-Mormon literary references. Another time, perhaps.

  7. For some people absent fathers is an issue (whether physically or emotionally),
    and so all of us need to hear it, not just men. Talking about them and not just
    priesthood leadership, but FATHER or MAN and their personal presence and efforts
    is important I think. We do hear alot about MOTHER and WOMAN. Im not
    disappointed in the numbers because I think the GA’s are very very knowledgeable
    about what is going on ALL over the world.

  8. ALSO I am glad Christ was number one. In fact, I did notice it myself during the conference. I did love Elder Uchtdorf’s statements coinciding with Palm Sunday
    and Holy Week. But I know others did talk about Him too, esp Elder Holland.
    And dont forget the testimonies of our leaders. They are supposed to be Special witnesses for Christ in all the world and to the church too.

    I also did feel surprised that Temples didnt make the top 3 for this particular conference. It could just be that I was tuned to that particular message for me in
    my life.

  9. a couple of things that likely skewed the numbers: every talk closes “in the name of Jesus Christ” — did they include that? also, “Father in Heaven” is a common reference to God that does not refer to “fathers” necessarily. I’m sure that men/fathers are higher ranked because of the priesthood session.

    The blog you referenced also has historical trends, and women/mothers are down significantly from the past: -42% decrease (Average 3.55 references per talk:: Historical: 6.13 references per talk). That is very interesting… are the speakers shying away from giving advice to/about mothers?

  10. 1. CarlosJC, I find it surprising that you list as one of the most important needs “Priesthood to actually run the church”. My first thought on reading that is that women also are instrumental in running the church, and could do more besides, if allowed.

  11. Post

    “are the speakers shying away from giving advice to/about mothers?” – after the Julie Beck talk, maybe? Once bitten, twice shy?

    CarlosJC – I agree with Tatiana. It used to be that the auxiliaries ran independently and were not under the PH.

  12. #13 Certainly women could do more and probably do it better than men but the system is set up differently. Its set up for men or rather “The Priesthood” to run the church. Priesthood supervises even YW and RS but women don’t oversee YM, or example. Women guide YW along but then a man bishop or counselor interviews her, but women don’t do the same with YM. And yes he will have a mother but he also has a father at home (usually).

    I’m not saying that its good, its probably not but just how it is, I believe.

    The problem though is that it seems to overflows to day-to-day Mormon life. For example I have never heard of a women running BYU or BYU Idaho or any church owned business. Have you heard of any? Even UVU replaced an interim female president with a BYU professor -that’s only associate professor but elder Holland’s son. Why didn’t she get the job? I wonder since she was a VP and former Dean etc etc. Nor have I heard of a woman running any big business in Utah, but I have heard of many Utah women as teachers, counselors, nurses, child protection etc

  13. For example I have never heard of a women running BYU or BYU Idaho or any church owned business. Have you heard of any?

    Sherry Dew runs Deseret Book…

  14. #16 I didn’t know about her; wikipedia bio is interesting though, But any other big business/college run by a female in Utah?

  15. just had a fantastic read of a factual biblical novel ” the red tent” by anita diamant
    twice straight through cover to cover recomend it to any one and that from a male.

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