History and Methodology of Word Length Studies

The State of the Art
  • Peter Grzybek
Part of the Text, Speech and Language Technology book series (TLTB, volume 31)

The study of word length has an almost 150-year long history: it was on August 18, 1851, when Augustus de Morgan, the well-known English mathematician and logician (1806–1871), in a letter to a friend of his, brought forth the idea of studying word length as an indicator of individual style, and as a possible factor in determining authorship. Specifically, de Morgan concentrated on the number of letters per word and suspected that the average length of words in different Epistles by St. Paul might shed some light on the question of authorship; generalizing his ideas, he assumed that the average word lengths in two texts, written by one and the same author, though on different subjects, should be more similar to each other than in two texts written by two different individuals on one and the same subject (cf. Lord 1958).


Poisson Distribution Lognormal Distribution Empirical Distribution Word Length Adequate Model 
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Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Grzybek
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für SlawistikKarl-Franzens-Universität GrazGrazAustria

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