Keywords

author identification, phonoprints, fictional character names, authentic names, nineteenth-century census, J. R. R. Tolkein, phonotactic probabilities

Abstract

If authors put words together in ways that can be recognized as wordprints (Hilton, 1990; Morton, 1979; Archer et al., 1997), do they put sounds together in identifiable ways when they invent names? Could they have unique sound prints (phonoprints) as well? This exploratory study compared phonemic patterns of fictional names in the poorly written Manuscript Story by Spalding and the extremely well-written Lord of the Rings and related works by J. R. R. Tolkein with names from an authentic public record, the nineteenth-century US Census. Phonotactic probabilities were determined using a calculator (Vitevitch and Luce, 2004) available on the Internet. When multivariate patterns of mean phonotactic probabilities at each ordinal phoneme position were considered, phonoprints emerged that merit further examination.

Original Publication Citation

Wilcox, B., Brown, B. L., Baker-Smemoe, W., Black, S., & Bary, J. (2013). Identifying authors by phonoprints in the characters’ names: An exploratory study. Names, 61, 104-125.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

2013

Publisher

American Name Society

Language

English

College

Humanities

Department

Linguistics

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor

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