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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: June ::
Re: A Lover's Complaint
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1260  Monday, 23 June 2003

From:           Jim Carroll <
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Date:           Sunday, 22 Jun 2003 21:17:25 EDT
Subject: 14.1186 Re: A Lover's Complaint
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1186 Re: A Lover's Complaint

Bill Lloyd, in his post from June 6, gave the opinion that Elliott and
Valenza's statistical tests were "evidence", not "proof", against a
Shakespeare attribution. May I suggest that they are not even evidence?

One of the 4 tests that reject "A Lover's Complaint" in Elliott and
Valenza's "And Then There Were None" (CHUM vol. 30, 191-245, 1996) is
the ""with" as penultimate word in a sentence" test. They report 0
occurrences for "A Lover's Complaint", but this number is described as
occurrences per 1000 sentences.  That's sentences, not lines. But since
Elliott and Valenza are comparing 3000 word blocks of text, there are
far fewer than 1000 sentences in their blocks, so the range of numbers
is inflated as a result. For example, here are their values for 3 blocks
of Venus and Adonis (p237):

Words   with as penultimate etc
3135                6
3108                6
3359               34

Whoa dude, an average of 15 per block, versus 0 for ALC. The only
problem is, when you determine the absolute number of occurrences, their
distribution is much less striking. I looked at the first 3048 words of
V&A, and it contains 131 sentences, (in my edition) with one occurrence
of "with" as the penultimate word of a sentence (line 18, "And being
set, I'll smother thee with kisses.").  I found only a total of 4
instances of that particular feature in all of Venus and Adonis. If we
broke Venus and Adonis down into ~3048 word blocks, the table would look
like this if we list how many times "with" occurred at the end of a
sentence in each block:

Words   with as penultimate etc
3048                1
3058                0
3595                3

(The blocks are lines 1-372, 373-746, 747-end, in that order).

If I were to break V&A down into 2600 word blocks (the same size as A
Lover's Complaint) the table would have the values 1, 0, 1, 2 (with the
last block only about 2/3 the size of the others).  In either case, 0
occurrences in A Lover's Complaint of this feature no longer appears to
be so unusual. In fact, it appears to be in the right ballpark.

Jim Carroll

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