Analyzing word usage - algorithms, techniques, and software in the field
March 25, 2004 5:57 AM Subscribe
By using a computer to analyze the word usage of the anonymously authored book Primary Colors, Don Foster was able to determine that columnist Joe Klein wrote it. Foster wrote a book about his experience, but it gives very little detail into his methods. From what I gather, the general theory is that different writers have statistically significant ideosyncracies that show up in things like vocabulary choices. The FBI is supposed to be able to do this with ransom notes, and I've heard of one guy who is trying to do it with the U.S. Supreme Court's theoretically anonymous "per curiam" opinions. I'd like to do some similar work. What is this general field called--is "forensic linguistics" the right term? Can anyone recommend a good bibliography of works to read up on this, or maybe even some software that helps?