[Humanist] 24.815 events: Language individuation
Humanist Discussion Group
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Mar 24 07:25:51 CET 2011
Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 815.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
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Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2011 06:18:43 +0000
From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
Subject: Language individuation
Language Individuation: A Symposium in Honour of John Burrows
4-8 July 2011
Centre for Literary and Linguistic Computing
The Humanities Research Institute
University of Newcastle
Evidence-based work on authorship over recent decades has shown that
writers create an individual style with a precision of detail and a
consistency which would hardly have been predicted by traditional
stylistics, let alone by the more recent understanding of literary
production that foregrounds collective forces, such as institutions,
ideologies, genres and language itself. Meanwhile cognitive linguistics
and neuroscience have been exploring the connections between the
language of the individual and physical structures in the brain from the
perspective of the mechanisms of language production. This work takes
the question of language individuation beyond literary style to wider
questions of how individuals create styles in language in general, in
everyday writing and speech. If our picture is of language users who
cannot help transforming the undifferentiated common resource of
language into highly specific recognisable idiolects, how best can we
study this phenomenon, and establish its nature and limits?
The symposium honours John Burrows, the founder of computational
stylistics. Burrows showed in his book Computation into Criticism: A
Study of Jane Austen's Novels and an Experiment in Method (1987) that a
quantitative study of function word use can reveal subtle and powerful
patterns in Austen's language. The book also pioneered the application
of Principal Component Analysis to language data. In subsequent work
Burrows proposed a series of new techniques, Delta, Zeta, and Iota, all
of which are now very widely used in computational stylistics. Burrows'
work both before and after his retirement in 1989 has put authorship
study on a rigorous basis and provided a model for an unusual and
productive combination of statistical and literary analysis.
For more information, contact Hugh Craig, Humanities Research Institute,
University of Newcastle, Australia, at hugh.craig at newcastle.edu.au.
Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing,
King's College London, www.mccarty.org.uk;
Professor, Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney,
Editor, Humanist, www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org.
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