The researchers gathered together the complete works of Hardy, Melville, and Lawrence, and measured that dependence—counting the number of new unique words as a particular author's works get longer and longer.My fingerprint-able words would be "zombie apocalypse" and "shenanigans."
They used sections from books of varying lengths, randomly pulled from novels, alongside shorter works and short stories.
They found that the authors had distinctly different "unique word" curves.
The team suggests that a work by an unknown author could therefore be compared to prior works, with the curve acting as a linguistic "fingerprint".
Fingerprinting the greats
Literary scientists have analyzed the collected works of different writers, and come up with charts of which unique words different people use, and how often.