Lexicon Valley: How We Know L. Frank Baum Didn’t Write the 15th Oz Book

A show about the mysteries of English.
June 18 2012 3:51 PM

Does Your Writing Style Have a Fingerprint?

Listen to Slate’s show about the surprising way mathematicians can determine authorship.

120206_PODCAST_lexiconAlley

Listen to Lexicon Valley Episode No. 14: “By Their Words You Shall Know Them.”

Is it possible that your writing style is identifiably unique? In the late 1800s, a Polish philosopher named Wincenty Lutosławski imagined a “future science of stylometry,” whereby the singular style of an author could be quite literally measured. In such a future, controversies over authorship would be resolved not by literary scholars but by statisticians, and data would provide the answer. Sounds like pie in the sky, right? But it turns out that Lutosławski was right. Over the past 50 years, stylometrists have fashioned a promising way to identify authorial signatures using something called “lexical glue.” Listen as Bob Garfield and I talk about how a bunch of seemingly inconspicuous words actually stand out.

You'll find every Lexicon Valley episode at slate.com/lexiconvalley, or in the player below:

Advertisement

Send your thoughts about the show to slatelexiconvalley@gmail.com.













Mike Vuolo is a radio and podcast producer and the host of Lexicon Valley.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.