Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Oude Kijk in 't Jatstraat 26, 9712 EK Groningen, T.Meder@RUG.nl; G.Bouma@RUG.nl
In 1989, Willem Kuiper published his thesis on the Middle Dutch romance Ferguut in which he concluded that the text was written by two authors. Kuiper showed differences in writing style at all levels and concluded this could not be a coincidence. According to Kuiper, the first author translated the Old French Fergus by Guillaume le Clerc, approximately until vs. 2592, whereafter the second author completed the second half without the French example - in the spirit of Fergus, but in his own words. Whereas Kuiper had to do his quantitative style analysis by hand, today the statistical programming language R in collaboration with the stylometric program Stylo can perform the job much faster and more thoroughly. In its analysis, the software not only takes all the differences into account (like Kuiper did), but all the similarities as well, even at levels writers and readers are hardly aware of, such as word frequency, word order and the use of function words. At this level every author leaves behind his personal fingerprint. Our stylometric research on the one hand confirmed that differences in style can be detected, but on the other hand shows how the even larger number of similarities suggests that the entire text was written by single author. The difference in style should most probably be explained as a shift in register by one author, from translating a foreign language text to freely retelling a story.
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