Sherlock Holmes and the Strange Case of the Missing Attribution: A Historical Note on “The Grandfather Passage” PurposeIn 1963, Charles Van Riper published “My Grandfather,” a short reading passage that has evolved into a ubiquitous metric of reading ability and speech intelligibility. In this historical note, we describe several heretofore unacknowledged similarities between “The Grandfather Passage” (Darley, Aronson, & Brown, 1975) and a portion of The Valley ... Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor  |   February 01, 2012
Sherlock Holmes and the Strange Case of the Missing Attribution: A Historical Note on “The Grandfather Passage”
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jamie Reilly
    University of Florida, Gainesville
  • Jamie L. Fisher
    University of Florida, Gainesville
  • Correspondence to Jamie Reilly: jjreilly@phhp.ufl.edu
  • Editor and Associate Editor: Anne Smith
    Editor and Associate Editor: Anne Smith×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language
Letter to the Editor   |   February 01, 2012
Sherlock Holmes and the Strange Case of the Missing Attribution: A Historical Note on “The Grandfather Passage”
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2012, Vol. 55, 84-88. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/11-0158)
History: Received June 22, 2011 , Accepted October 19, 2011
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2012, Vol. 55, 84-88. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/11-0158)
History: Received June 22, 2011; Accepted October 19, 2011
Web of Science® Times Cited: 5

PurposeIn 1963, Charles Van Riper published “My Grandfather,” a short reading passage that has evolved into a ubiquitous metric of reading ability and speech intelligibility. In this historical note, we describe several heretofore unacknowledged similarities between “The Grandfather Passage” (Darley, Aronson, & Brown, 1975) and a portion of The Valley of Fear (Conan Doyle, 1915/2006), the final novel of the Sherlock Holmes series. We also describe overlap between “My Grandfather” and “The Grandfather Passage.”

MethodWe contrasted propositions within The Valley of Fear to “My Grandfather” and “The Grandfather Passage.” We also compared the respective text strings using the Turnitin antiplagiarism software application (iParadigms, 2011).

Results“My Grandfather” and “The Grandfather Passage” are nearly identical passages with 88% string overlap. In addition, both passages show similarities with text from TheValley of Fear.

ConclusionsDarley et al. (1975)  did not acknowledge Van Riper (1963)  as the original author of “The Grandfather Passage.” In addition to this citation oversight, neither Darley et al. nor Van Riper attributed Conan Doyle as original source material. We describe the colorful history of this passage that has seen a remarkable breadth of utility in speech and language sciences.

Acknowledgments
This work was funded by National Institutes of Health Grant K23 DC010197 (to the first author). We are grateful to Joseph Duffy, who during the original review of this work was instrumental in calling our attention to several secondary sources and unconsidered historical lines. We also thank Kenneth Logan and Jonathan E. Peelle for advice and counterpoint.
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