This is a two-year course taught (or, rather, loosely coordinated by Jan Rybicki), which introduces students of the University’s Translation Studies programme to quantitative approaches in the study of – you’ve guessed it – translation. The course’s main deliverable is a ca. 80-page dissertation in English.
The course’s first year begins with an introduction to the field and to its methods, and ends in a specified subject of later work. The students also produce a short “teaser” of what they will be writing about. Some examples are presented below.
Genres according to Project Gutenberg
The subject of this experiment is 83 novels that, according to the Project Gutenberg, belong to one of the three genres: adventure, crime fiction and detective fiction. The presented samples are both originally written in English and translated into English, for example from French (such as Jules Verne, Alexander Dumas père). The majority of the selected authors appear only in one category; however, there are three names (Morrison, Orczy and Wallace) that have works that belong to both adventure and detective fiction; thus, to those books that belong to adventure section, a letter A has been added after the name of the author. Moreover, the name Stevenson appears in adventure as well as detective fiction; yet the name does not represent the same person. Adventure is represented by Robert Louis Stevenson and detective fiction by Burton Egbert Stevenson. In order to avoid confusion, the letter B has been added to the latter man’s work.
The aim of the experiment is to determine whether the novels that Gutenberg categorised into one group can be distinguished from those belonging to two other groups. Furthermore, it ought to be established whether translations from the same language show any similar traits. Another issue that is of concern is the matter of authorial signal, for there are novels written by the same author that belong to two categories. The methods employed to answer all those questions are consensus cluster analysis (Figure 1) and network analysis (Figure 2).
Figure 1. Cluster analysis
Cluster analysis illustrates the relationship between particular samples; however, if one was to see connections between all the texts, network analysis is needed.
Figure 2. Network analysis
In order to distinguish what category does a particular novel belong to, the sample has been coloured according to their category: red shades for adventure, green shades for crime fiction and blue shades for detective fiction.
The adventure books appear to exhibit similarities between one another, as the samples are grouped closely together. The only novel that is separated from the rest is Arthur Morrison’s The Dorrington Deed-Box (morrisonA_box). It is instead grouped with other Morrison’s books, those that belong to the detective fiction category, thus showing a strong authorial signal of Morrison. Detective fiction novels, though not as neatly as the adventure ones, are mostly grouped in one place. They are more interconnected with crime fiction novels, which illustrates the similarity between the two categories. Authors that are particularly close include Sax Rohmer and Arthur Rees or Joseph Smith Fletcher, Harrington Strong and H. Beam Piper. Crime fiction novels do not seem to compose a strong group, as only a few samples are present in a particular place on the network. As previously stated, this category is interlaced with detective fiction novels.
Translated samples do not show any apparent similarities, as they are not universally connected one to another or even placed in close proximity on the network.
Taking all the evidence into consideration, it can be concluded that the Gutenberg division proves to have some merit. Adventure books clearly compose one group. Detective and, particularly, crime fiction are not clustered so closely but, as they are genres similar enough, the connection between them can be expected.
Discovering The Dirty Old Man’s Identity
My very first research that I did more for fun than on spec for a serious discovery turned out to be more fascinating than I thought of. It all started after 1834 when Adam Mickiewicz, one of the most important figures in Polish literature, wrote an epic poem considered the national epic of Poland, Pan Tadeusz (Sir Thaddeus). The poem consists of twelve chapters called books, all written in Polish alexandrine (13 syllables divided into two half lines). There is, however, yet one chapter called the 13th Book that describes the wedding night of the title character Tadeusz with Zosia. The book resembles Mickiewicz’ style in its use of the Polish Alexandrine but on the other hand is packed with words that are commonly treated as vulgar. There was ongoing speculation about the authorship of the 13th Book of Pan Tadeusz as no writer owned up to writing it. There were three authors who were taken into account: Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński, Włodzimierz Zagórski and Alexander Fredro; the latter being most frequently suspected.
In my research I decided to have a first look at the romantic writers contemporary to Mickiewicz and do a cluster analysis of their works based on 100 most frequent words. My corpus consists of 5 books of Mickiewicz (one being a translation of Byron’s The Giaur), 4 books of Fredro (with the assumption that he was the author of the 13th Book), 2 of Słowacki and 1 of Krasicki.
I expected the 13th Book to occur somewhere near Pan Tadeusz as both of them were written in Polish alexandrine as epic poems. The results however proved me wrong and rewarded me with a very satisfying discovery.
Figure 1. Fredro exposed
In Table 1 we can see the results of cluster analysis based on 100 most frequent words with the use of Classic Delta distance. We can clearly see that the 13th Book is closer to Fredro’s works than Mickiewicz ones. It might have been an insufficient evidence for Fredro’s authorship and that’s what I thought at first too. From all the books that my corpus consists of, only 3 are dramas and the 13th Book seems to like them more than other, more even than Mickiewicz model Pan Tadeusz. What’s more, all of dramas included in the corpus were written by Fredro. I decided that a consensus tree based on 100-1000 most frequent words will resolve all my remaining doubts on who the title dirty old man was.
Figure 2. It’s definitely Fredro
When I saw the results of the consensus tree that is presented in the Table 2, all of my remaining doubts vaporised like a wispy Cretan cloud on my honeymoon that I send you my warm regards from. The 13th Book still is sticks to Fredro’s dramas and is none like other epic poems from the corpus.
There is only one conclusion that I drew from my research. The resemblance that the 13th Book and Fredro’s dramas have is so apparent that we can assume that he really was the author of the filthy continuation of Mickiewicz’ national epic.