Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: August ::
Shakespeare Golden Ear Test
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0497  Friday, 3 August 2007

[1]	From: 		Larry Weiss <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
	Date: 		Thursday, 02 Aug 2007 01:54:52 -0400
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0492 Shakespeare Golden Ear Test

[2]	From: 		Ward Elliott <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
	Date: 		Thursday, 02 Aug 2007 13:31:32 -0700
	Subj: 		RE: SHK 18.0492 Shakespeare Golden Ear Test


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Larry Weiss <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date: 		Thursday, 02 Aug 2007 01:54:52 -0400
Subject: 18.0492 Shakespeare Golden Ear Test
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0492 Shakespeare Golden Ear Test

I confess that I was the unidentified amateur who scored a golden ear. 
When can I expect to receive my trophy?

As a high scorer I feel it is not out of place for me to object to at 
least one of the questions (which would not have changed my 
classification):  The survey includes an obvious passage from "Shall I 
Die?" (the opening two stanzas as I recall).  I would have thought that 
almost everyone must have recognized this passage since the title is 
repeated twice in the first line. Therefore, the respondents who 
recognized the poem were faced not with the question of whether the 
style is "Shakespearean" -- I don't think it is, but some respected 
professionals differ -- but, rather, the more academic question of 
whether to follow the attribution by Gary Taylor and the Oxford editors 
or the rejection by Elliott-Valenza.  Since the latter scored the test, 
it is not surprising that the "right answer" is "not Shakespeare." 
However, Ward's report surprisingly indicates that fewer than a third of 
the total respondents and only about half the rated participants 
recognized the passage.  Interestingly, those that did not recognize the 
passage were most likely to get the answer "right," which I think proves 
my point as the wrong answers by knowledgeable respondents were 
undoubtedly influenced by the Oxford attribution.  I respectfully submit 
that future tests not include passages of disputed authorship such as 
those treated in part VIII of Ward's post (the Funeral Elegy no longer 
falls within that category, so its inclusion in the test was 
reasonable), unless they are dummy controls not used to score "success." 
  I know that recognized passages are thrown out in deriving the more 
"interesting" (statistically valid?) net scores, but some inferences are 
drawn from gross scores as well, so I don't think it is reasonable to 
include legitimately disputed attributions to test the sensitivity of a 
respondent's ear.  A person who recognizes a passage from a work of 
disputed authorship is responding to extraneous considerations not 
intended to be tested. Even where the respondents don't recognize a 
disputed passage, its inclusion skews the results, as the "correct 
answer" depends on the biases of the scorer.

Another issue of statistical reliability -- one that cannot so easily be 
factored out -- is the problem of partial recognition.  In many 
instances it was relatively easy for me to place a passage in the 
context of its play, even though the speech itself was not familiar, and 
identify it as Shakespearean or not without reference to its style.  On 
the other hand, this can also be a trap.  For example, the passage from 
Sir John Oldcastle struck me as possibly from the last act of MW/W, a 
play which I have not read for many years, as I thought it might have 
referred to the Herne the Hunter episode.  Ward indicates that he 
believes the passage evokes "a beleaguered stag scene from As You Like 
It"; but the point is the same.

Ward notes in his analysis that the validity of the test could be 
compromised by test takers so intent on getting a high score that they 
"comb [the passages for] stylometric tell-tales [such as] hendiadys"; 
but in some cases a lot of meticulous combing is not needed.  I recall 
one passage on the test which I did not recognize but which had a 
distinctive Shakespearean-style hendiadys.  That seemed a dead 
give-away, so much so that I questioned whether it might have been 
included as a red herring and, therefore, I had to think twice before 
identifying the passage as Shakespearean.  But is this really a problem? 
  Isn't the quick recognition of stylistic quirks the very thing the 
test is supposed to quantify?

Finally, I am a little surprised that so few respondents recognized the 
passage from Love's Labour's Lost; it contains my personal motto:

       Small have continual plodders ever won,
       Save base authority from others' books.

I look forward to Round 2, but with more than a soupcon of trepidation.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Ward Elliott <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date: 		Thursday, 02 Aug 2007 13:31:32 -0700
Subject: 18.0492 Shakespeare Golden Ear Test
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0492 Shakespeare Golden Ear Test

Here's a shorter update than my last.  I just looked at my Golden Ear 
inbox and found six more rated, self-identified players who took the 
test after deadline.  One of them maxed the test while recognizing only 
one passage!  Maybe there is some hope for intuition after all.  I've 
added them all to my Round 2 invitation list.

Yours,
Ward Elliott

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
editor assumes no responsibility for them.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.