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Jack the Ripper letter mystery solved by Manchester researcher

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Keira Kensington
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« on: January 30, 2018, 08:58:25 pm »


Manchester,
29
January
2018
Jack the Ripper letter mystery solved by Manchester researcher


A forensic linguist from The University of Manchester who analysed letters supposedly signed by Jack the Ripper has concluded that two of the most famous examples were written by the same person.

The Whitechapel murders that terrorised London in 1888 are still remembered thanks to the legend of Jack the Ripper, who was never caught.

In addition to the gruesomeness of the murders, Jack the Ripper’s name and persona were popularised by more than 200 letters which were received following the murders. These letters are essentially what made him famous, and it has often been suggested that they were written by journalists to sell more newspapers.

Most of the letters signed ‘Jack the Ripper’ were – and still are - regarded as hoaxes. After the first four were received, the police decided to publish them, after which hoaxers began to send copycat letters claiming to be written by him. Therefore, forensic linguist Dr Andrea Nini decided to focus on two of the earliest letters - the ‘Dear Boss’ letter, in which the Jack the Ripper name was first written, and the ‘Saucy Jacky’ postcard (pictured above)..

He used modern techniques to analyse the letters, which uncovered certain shared distinctive linguistic constructions, such as the use of the phrasal verb to keep back (to withhold), in two of the most iconic early texts. He also found evidence that a link exists between these letters and another of the key texts in the case, the ‘Moab and Midian’ letter.


    I came across the Jack the Ripper letters a few years ago and I was surprised to know that there had not been any forensic linguistics analysis of them, so I thought that I could apply modern forensic linguistic techniques to uncover evidence about their author.

Dr Andrea Nini

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“My conclusion is that there is very strong linguistic evidence that these two texts were written by the same person. People in the past had already expressed this tentative conclusion, on the basis of similarity of handwriting, but this had not been established with certainty. I also found evidence that could link the author of these two letters to the so-called ‘Moab and Midian’ letter, which some people believe was a hoax created by the Central News Agency of London.”​

“In addition to the historical value of my findings, they could help forensic linguists to better understand the important issue of individuality in linguistic production. Since all the hoaxers tried to mimic the style of the original ‘Jack the Ripper’, we can use the database of the letters to understand how people fake writing style - and how successful they are at imitation. The results indicate that it is very difficult to do so.”
http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/jack-the-ripper-letter-mystery/
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Keira Kensington
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« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2018, 09:04:28 pm »

Abstract

The Whitechapel murders that terrorized London in 1888 are still remembered to this day, thanks to the legend of its unapprehended perpetrator, Jack the Ripper. In addition to the gruesomeness of the murders, the name and the persona of the killer have been popularized by the over 200 letters signed as ‘Jack the Ripper’ that have been received following the murders. The most supported theory on the authorship of these letters is that some of the earliest key texts were written by journalists to sell more newspapers and that the same person is responsible for writing the two most iconic earliest letters. The present article reports on an authorship clustering/verification analysis of the Jack the Ripper letters with a view to detect the presence of one writer for the earliest and most historically important texts. After compiling the ‘Jack the Ripper Corpus’ consisting of the 209 letters linked to the case, a cluster analysis of the letters is carried out using the Jaccard distance of word 2-grams. The quantitative results and the discovery of certain shared distinctive lexicogrammatical structures support the hypothesis that the two most iconic texts responsible for the creation of the persona of Jack the Ripper were written by the same person. In addition, there is also evidence that a link exists between these texts and another of the key texts in the case, the Moab and Midian letter.

https://academic.oup.com/dsh/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/llc/fqx065/4824843
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