Dinner Meeting: October 1999

Speaker: Jane Buck
Professor Emeritus
Delaware State University
Title: Statistics in Language Studies: Use, Abuse, and Neglect


A few intrepid statisticians, fascinated by questions of authorship, style, and chronology, have crossed the traditional disciplinary boundaries. In 1944, G. Udny Yule published "The Statistical Study of Literary Vocabulary", which attacked the problem of the disputed authorship of "De Imitatione Christi". More recently, Mosteller and Wallace applied Bayesian and classical statistical techniques to the question of the authorship of 12 of "The Federalist Papers".

Most language scholars, on the other hand, have been less than eager to embrace statistics as an analytic tool. It is not unusual for linguists to make claims about statistical significance--without citing a single number. There are notable exceptions. Historical linguists are beginning to use statistical methods to study the dissemination of languages across cultures, and others are venturing timidly in the footsteps of Yule, Mosteller, and Wallace.

The dialogue is skewed. Most statisticians have been exposed to the literary canon. It is the rare language scholar, on the other hand, who has taken a statistics course. I take the position in this paper that statistics is a vital tool for the language scholar and should be incorporated in the curricula of language and linguistics departments.


Thursday, October 14, 1999

Social hour -- 6:00 pm    (Note new time)
Dinner -- 6:30 pm
Speaker -- 7:15 pm

Newark Holiday Inn
Oliver's Restaurant


Appetizer: Fresh melon
Salad: Tossed green salad
Entree:  Roast sirloin of beef au jus
   Vegetable du jour
   Potato du jour

Dessert: Chocolate parfait

$20 for members, $5 for students

Reservations to Jane Buck by Friday, October 8, 1999.
410-885-3117,  buck@count.com

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