The Linguistic Software That Exposed J.K. Rowling

Jul 23, 2013

Credit Thalita Carvalho via Flickr Creative Commons

Last week, author J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame was uncovered as true author behind The Cuckoo’s Calling, a mystery novel written under the pen-name Robert Galbraith. Signed first editions of the book are now selling for over six thousand dollars, a testament to the value of a name. The reporters at the Sunday Times who broke the Rowling story consulted several academics whose methods of determining authorship relied heavily on software they had developed for that very purpose.

Ben Zimmer is a linguist, lexicographer, and language columnist for the Wall Street Journal. He’s on the line to talk about the science that went into discovering the true identity behind "Robert Galbraith," which he covered for their "Speakeasy" blog.