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IAN LANCASHIRE Probing Shakespeare's Idiolect in Troilus and Cressida, 1.3.1-29 The idea that texts determine the individual does not exclude the idea that individuals determine texts. Norman HoUand, Shakespeare's Personality John Heminge and Henry Condell first speak of Shakespeare's idiolect- his personal language behaviour - in their preface to the 1623 folio: 'His mind and hand went together: And what he thought, he vttered with that easinesse , that wee haue searse receiued from him a b.lot in his papers.'1 They echo Shakespeare, who said, of his 'noted weed/ that 'every word doth almost [tell] my name, / Showing their birth, and where they did proceed' (sonnet 76.6-8). For these three men, style is more than 'an elegant fourme or order in writynge or speakinge,' and invention more than rhetorical inventio, where one finds material in 'loci or "places, seats" in one's notebooks.'2 Idiolect reflects 'mind' and should be approached through cognition. Descartes notwithstanding, mind is now analysable biologically by scientific methods. Even in the humanities, authorship attribution now uses quantitative profiles of lexical, grammatical, metrical, and syntactic regularities, such as function-word combinations, rare words, and affix usage, as markers of idiolect.) Computer text-analysis charts these regularities in concordance, graph, and table and distinguishes the random from the statistically significant,4 but understanding these textual objects gets us only partway towards idiolect because writing does not exhaust an author's uttering. There are three language modes: writing, oral speech, 1 This paper was first presented to the Shakespeare A,ssociation of America in 1997 in Washington, DC, in a seminar on authorship attribution chaired by Hugh Grady. I have benefited from the advice of fellow seminarists, D.W. Foster, A.c. Lancashire, J.L. Levenson, M. Moscovitch, and G. Henderson. I am alone responsible for any errors. Unless otherwise stated, Shakespeare quotations are from The Riverside Shakespeare, 2nd edition. See p 95 for what Heminge and Condell say. 2 'Stylus,' in Elyot, Dictionary ofSyr Thomas Eliot Kllyght (1538); Vickers, 85; cf. Alhnan, 50. 3 Foster, Elegt) by W. 5., summarizes much of what we know about Shakespeare's style. An indispensable source of jnformation for its study remains Spevack's A Complete Gild Systematic Concordance to the Works of Shakespeare. See also Hope. 4 Milic discusses the somewhat 'disappointing' history of computational styiistics from the mid-196os to 1991 ('Progress in Stylistics,' 399). For a survey of current authorship markers and attribution methods, see Holmes. UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUAlnERLY, VOLUME 68, NUMBER 3, SUMMER 1999 SHAKESPEARE'S IDIOLECT IN TROILUS AND CRESSIDA 729 and inner speech, a subvocal utterance expressed in words audible only in the mind. Idiolect embraces the textual, auditory and subvocal traits of 'uttering/ the term used here to describe a language act viewed independently of output. Neither can idiolect be separated from how authors think averbally, use images mentally, and feel emotions. Cognitive neuroscience hypothesizes that a non-verbal mode of thinking, mentalese, may underlie human language, that semantic long-term memory encodes many words visually, and that reasoning cannot be effective in the absence of emotions (Pinker; Baddeley, 'Is Working Memory Working?' 20-21; Damasio, Descartes ' Error). Idiolect thus has many non-linguistic dimensions; and Shakespeare studies have argued so for some time. Caroline Spurgeon said more than sixty years ago that Shakespeare's feelings co-determine his idiolect: his 'strong and individual tendency to return under similar emotional stimulus to a similar picture or group of associated ideas ... forms an extraordinarily reliable test of authorship' (199). An idiolect that reveals itself in linguistic traits, mental imagery, emotions, and even averbal reasoning might be termed a cognitive style. Some language choices represent conscious behaviour, some unselfcon- , scious. All are connected,because cognition blends or associates things. The brain's language-processing centres and the dynamic neural networks that they make and use form a physical substrate for this persistent associativity . Neural networks reveal themselves, not in single words or effects, but in repeated combinations of features, ranging from phrasal structures like hendiadys (ct. Wright) and fixed and unfixed collocations, to image and sound clusters expressive of feelings. Cognitive idiolect is not a fingerprint, an...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 728-767
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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