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A Stylometric Analysis of King Alfred's Literary Works


  • Paramjit Gill
  • Tim Swartz
  • Michael Treschow


For centuries, Alfred the Great was judged to have translated several Latin texts into Old English. Many scholars, however, have expressed doubt whether Alfred could have done all of this work. With the availability of the Old English Corpus in electronic form, it is feasible to subject the texts to statistical stylometric analysis. We approach the problem from a Bayesian perspective where key words are identified and frequencies of the key words are tabulated for seven relevant texts. The question of authorship falls into the general statistical problem of classification where several simple innovations to classical agglomerative procedures are introduced. Our results suggest that one translation that has been traditionally attributed to Alfred (The First Fifty Prose Psalms) tends to distinguish itself from texts that are known to be Alfredian.

Suggested Citation

  • Paramjit Gill & Tim Swartz & Michael Treschow, 2007. "A Stylometric Analysis of King Alfred's Literary Works," Journal of Applied Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(10), pages 1251-1258.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:japsta:v:34:y:2007:i:10:p:1251-1258 DOI: 10.1080/02664760701592992

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Schraepler, Joerg-Peter & Wagner, Gert G., 2003. "Identification, Characteristics and Impact of Faked Interviews in Surveys: An Analysis by Means of Genuine Fakes in the Raw Data of SOEP," IZA Discussion Papers 969, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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