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Word Frequency Analysis: Forensic Editing – Yes, This Editor is a Computer Geek.

Thursday, 28th March, 2013

by Phill Berrie (at Phill’s Follies)

Was Shakespeare really Francis Bacon? Or perhaps William Shakespeare was the name Christopher Marlowe used to publish his plays after secretly escaping death and fleeing into exile. These are both serious possibilities being studied by literature scholars(*) using computers and stylometric techniques like word frequency analysis.

Now I’m thinking that your thinking: ‘Yes, that’s all very interesting, but what has it got to do with editing?’.

When editing, I much prefer working with electronic versions of manuscripts than hardcopy because they allow me to use one of my favourite computer utilities, the word frequency analysis tool.

‘What’s a word frequency analysis tool?’ I hear you ask.

The quick answer is that: it is a tool that lets one see the frequency of use of specific words in a text or corpus. However, that really doesn’t indicate the full power of this text analysis technique. Read more…

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