- Purchase/rental options available:
Old English poems are difficult to date, largely anonymous, and written in a formulaic idiom, making it difficult to establish authorship and intertextual relationships among various poems. This essay employs computational stylometry—specifically, n-gram analysis—and network analysis to address this problem. It proposes methods for screening out chance n-grams and for employing n-grams of various lengths within a single analysis to show that, in Old English poetry, formulaic diction exists at the level of idiolect, sociolect, and language. Specifically, the signed poems of Cynewulf evince idiolectal characteristics; and along with Andreas, Christ III, The Phoenix, and Guthlac A and B, they form a poetic subtradition (sociolect).