The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.378 Wednesday, 26 August 2015
Date: August 25, 2015 at 9:36:15 PM EDT
Subject: Re: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog
Pervez Rivzi doesn’t appear to understand the issues involved here at all, from the fact that “man” appearing twice in the same line was simply an example, chosen because it’s easy to find with WordCruncher, to the fact that the issue is whether or not that if Shakespeare thought of the word “man”, it could cause him to think “Mantua” instead of “Padua”. This would occur because of “man’ in both but also because “Mantua” sounds like “Padua”.
I don’t know where Pervez is getting his claim that the results I obtained for “man” in the same line were not “statistically significant”. The Chebyshev inequality is easy to calculate for the results in question. The probability that the number of occurrences of “man” is greater than say, 37, is the standard deviation squared divided by 37 squared, or 0.021, assuming the standard deviation is 5.4. So the fact that the actual value is 38 appears significant to me. The counts in Shakespeare were done using WordCruncher and searching the folio plays only, since it is easy in WordCruncher to limit the search to only certain plays.
I just did a search of the Folio text [see note 1 below], looking at words that occur between 1500 and 3000 times, and for which the actual number of lines with two or more occurrences is more than 3 standard deviations away from the expected (using the same method to work out the probability that you used). I found 15 such words. For example, ‘come’, ‘their’ and ‘loue’ (i.e. love) which occur twice on a line far more often than we’d expect by using your technique. Or, if I look at all words that occur more than 1500 times and require only 2 standard deviations, the number of hits rises to 56. For how many words are you going to claim that Shakespeare had some ‘association’ in his mind?
Quite a few, in fact, probably most of them, since the occurrences of those word associations are a marker of his style, and if you consider different writers you will find different associations, both in the numbers of words and the words themselves. The same goes for the negative associations you mentioned. It should be pointed out that the probabilities for “man” before “Mantua” don’t take into account the probability that some other word could be used in its place (synonyms and near-synonyms like “wight”, “one” etc), and taking that fact into account drives the probability of “man” occurring in the same line even lower, and the significance of 38 becomes greater.
I should emphasize again that the example of “man” in the same line is an example. What really should be counted should be the occurrence of the syllable “man” in the vicinity of “Mantua” (“vicinity” being perhaps up to 4 lines away), since it is the sound of the syllable that triggers the recollection of the next word. That’s not so easy to do, which is why I used the “man” twice in the same line example.
All in all, I see no reason to change my mind concerning whether or not “man” could cause Shakespeare to think of “Mantua” instead of “Padua”. I still say it’s obvious it could have; someone will have to work hard to demonstrate that it couldn’t have.