Could how you use language predict how your relationships turn out? To investigate, a couple of researchers from The University of Texas at Austin studied what they call "language style matching." LSM occurs almost immediately after we begin to interact with someone else; the way we talk—the grammatical structure of our sentences—naturally starts to mirror how the other person speaks.
To see if the level of LSM could tell us anything about a close relationship, the researchers decided to look at the writing of two couples: poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, and Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Specifically, the researchers looked at how the couples used “function” words like “the” and “a,” "him" and "her," "thus" and "however," and other words that have virtually no meaning on their own (as opposed to nouns, verbs, and most adjectives and adverbs). The researchers found that:
Linguistic synchrony between Sylvia Plath’s and Ted Hughes’ poetry mirrors that found in the much happier literary couple, Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning. When Plath and Hughes were relatively happier, LSM in their professional work was higher. When their relationship fell apart and the authors began to separate, their language use also became more discrepant.
Even at its highest point, LSM for Plath’s and Hughes’s poetry was much lower than the Brownings’ average degree of matching. Taking into consideration the relative happiness of each couple, this should not come as a surprise.
The researchers theorize that "rather than indicating liking, LSM is likely a better indicator that two people in an interaction are paying attention to and seeking to understand one another." Thus, they wondered if LSM could be used to predict the outcome of a relationship.
So in a newer study, they looked at transcripts of speed-dates and found that 33.3 percent of pairs who had an LSM above the median wanted to see each other again, compared with only 9.1 percent of pairs with an LSM at or below the median. Then they looked at instant messages that couples sent and found that 76.7 percent of couples with an LSM higher than the median were still dating three months later, compared with 53.5 percent of those who had an LSM at or below the median. Sure enough, they say, "an unobtrusive measure of nonconscious verbal matching uniquely predicted mutual romantic interest and relationship stability."
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Analyzing the style of happy couples:
Isherwood and Auden:
In 1925 he became W. H. Auden's literary mentor and partner in an intermittently sexual but casual liaison. He collaborated on three plays with W. H. Auden. [Here is Auden's poem, The Platonic Blowjob.]Isherwood wrote a short story, Jacob's Hands: A Fable, in collaboration with Aldous Huxley in the 1947 but it lay hidden in a trunk on the Huxley estate for fifty years before being discovered by actress Sharon Stone in 1997. He stopped writing fiction after publishing A Single Man in 1964 and then wrote mostly about Vedanta.
In 1931 the homosexual South African poet William Plomer introduced him to E. M. Forster. They became close and Forster served as his mentor.
Isherwood also befriended Truman Capote, an up-and-coming young writer who would be influenced by Isherwood's Berlin Stories, most specifically in the traces of the story "Sally Bowles" that surface in Capote's famed novella, Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Ishwerwood also met Gerald Heard, the mystic-historian who founded his own monastery at Trabuco Canyon that was eventually gifted to the Vedanta Society of Southern California. Through Heard, who was the first to discover Swami Prabhavananda and Vedanta, Isherwood joined an extraordinary band of mystic explorers that included Aldous Huxley, Bertrand Russell, Chris Wood (Heard's lifelong friend), John Yale and J. Krishnamurti. He embraced Vedanta, and, together with Swami Prabhavananda, he produced several Hindu scriptural translations, Vedanta essays, the biography Ramakrishna and His Disciples, novels, all imbued with the themes and character of Vedanta and the Upanishadic quest. Through Huxley, Isherwood befriended the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky.
A chance encounter in a Los Angeles bookstore with the fantasy writer Ray Bradbury led to a favourable review of The Martian Chronicles, which boosted Bradbury's career and helped to form a friendship between the two men.
On Valentine's Day 1953, at the age of 48, he met teen-aged Don Bachardy among a group of friends on the beach at Santa Monica. Reports of Bachardy's age at the time vary, but Bachardy later said "at the time I was, probably, 16."
Isherwood and Auden:
The first musclepup has a name: Aleksei Lesukov. Now you see why the word for slave has the same root as Slav. The Slavs were highly sought after as strong, tough and good for shoveling shit. The best became gladiators.