Textual Stylistic Variation: Choices, Genres and Individuals

1 May 2022  ·  Jussi Karlgren ·

This chapter argues for more informed target metrics for the statistical processing of stylistic variation in text collections. Much as operationalised relevance proved a useful goal to strive for in information retrieval, research in textual stylistics, whether application oriented or philologically inclined, needs goals formulated in terms of pertinence, relevance, and utility - notions that agree with reader experience of text. Differences readers are aware of are mostly based on utility - not on textual characteristics per se. Mostly, readers report stylistic differences in terms of genres. Genres, while vague and undefined, are well-established and talked about: very early on, readers learn to distinguish genres. This chapter discusses variation given by genre, and contrasts it to variation occasioned by individual choice.

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