Words count: taking a count of the changing language of British aid

A word analysis of six UK government White Paper policy statements on aid (selected between 1960 and 2006) compares the top 20 words and key word pairs used in each document. Characteristic sentences are composed of the top 20s to represent the spirit of each paper. Results illuminate changes in the content of White Papers on aid, and point to trends in the history of the UK’s approach to international development. A characteristic sentence to illustrate the 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness is contrasted with a sentence of words that did not appear in that document. Readers are invited and challenged to identify words they would like to be used and acted on more in development.