Testing Delta on the «Disputed Federalist Papers»

  • Antonio Miranda García
  • Javier Calle Martín
Keywords: Authorship Attribution, Lexical richness, Standard Delta, Federalist Papers, Simplified Delta, Stylometry, Zipf Z

Abstract

The Federalist Papers stand out as an excellent proving ground in the field of authorship attribution, being nowadays considered a breaking issue in literary detection. The crucial point of the Federalist Papers is the set of the Disputed Papers, twelve articles traditionally attributed either to Alexander Hamilton or James Madison. This authorial obscurity, together with the existence of undisputed samples, surely explains the proliferation of studies trying to spot the hand responsible for the Disputed Papers, particularly throughout the second half of the 20th century, both with traditional and non-traditional approaches. Since the publication of Mosteller and Wallace’s masterpiece, there has been a consensus as to consider them exclusively Madisonian (Mosteller & Wallace 1963: 300; 1964: 16). Notwithstanding this incessant activity on the Federalist Papers as a test probe for authorial purposes, the use of Burrows’ Delta is still deemed a desideratum in the field, a technique proposing that the salient features which characterize an author’s style can be obtained from the hierarchy of the most common function words (Burrows 2002: 267-87; 2003: 5-32). The present paper then proposes the testing of Burrows’ model in a twofold version: a) modified Delta; and b) simplified Delta. The results come to corroborate the lexical differences between Hamilton and Madison, a fact allowing us to validate the hypothesis of the Madisonian composition of the Disputed Papers, exception being made of Paper 55.

Author Biographies

Antonio Miranda García
Antonio Miranda-García is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English Philology at Málaga University. His research topics are historical linguistics, vocabulary acquisition and authorship attribution studies. Recently, he has also developed an interest in Authorship Attribution, publishing in journals like Language Resources and Evaluation (2005), Literary and Linguistic Computing (2007) and Ecdotica (2008). In collaboration with Dr. Javier Calle, he has co-edited a special-themed issue on Stylometry and Authorship Attribution in the journal English Studies (2012).
Javier Calle Martín
Javier Calle-Martín is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Málaga (Spain). His research interests range from Historical Linguistics to Manuscript Studies, focusing on the use of punctuation in early English documents. Recently, he has also developed an interest in stylometric approaches to Authorship Attribution, publishing in journals like Language Resources and Evaluation (2005), Literary and Linguistic Computing (2007) and Ecdotica (2008). In collaboration with Dr. Antonio Miranda, he has co-edited a special-themed issue on Stylometry and Authorship Attribution in the journal English Studies (2012).
Published
01-12-2012
How to Cite
Miranda García, A., & Calle Martín, J. (2012). Testing Delta on the «Disputed Federalist Papers». International Journal of English Studies, 12(2), 133-150. https://doi.org/10.6018/ijes/2012/2/161791