From Coenoses to Style and Harmony: on Interdisciplinary Potential of Linguistics

Gregory Martynenko
St. Petersburg State University

1. The paper deals with the interdisciplinary potential of linguistics, revealing its relations to the general theory of coenoses, to the mathematics of harmony, and to a diverse number of metrical disciplines. The author intentionally skips well-known and evident interrelations of linguistics with other neighboring disciplines and focuses on less-researched interdisciplinary relations. The paper is unique in a way that the author uses his own research experience and includes only those interdisciplinary interactions that the author faced himself during his long and versatile research career path. That gives an opportunity to look at linguistics from new different perspectives and expand its potential further.

2. General theory of coenoses is an interdisciplinary theory that deals with community and population studies. This theory has an origin in biocoenosis (or ecosystems) studies that describe interacting of organisms living together in a common habitat. The theory was expanded and enriched by principles used in systems theory, classification theory, sociological theory, community theory, and theory of statistical population. You may also find coenoses or communities in different scientific fields (e.g., biogeocoenoses, technocoenoses, urban coenoses, linguistic coenoses, etc.).

Any text (both written or oral) being an integral unity consisting of multiple elements, not necessarily homogeneous, may be considered as a specific kind of coenosis. Text integrity is achieved by cohesiveness of author's ideas and unity of theme, plot, style, and other essential factors. The set of words, sentences or paragraphs, which constitute text, can be regarded as its lexical, syntactic and hyper-syntactic "population" [1].

Regardless of the particular subject area, the researchers use common systemic notions and terms for description of communities, e.g., such terms as homogeneity-heterogeneity, stability-instability, balance-disbalance, order-randomness, concentration-dispersion, integrity- amorphousness, complexity-simplicity, etc. Interdisciplinary studies of coenoses use common mathematical models and methods of data processing within one conceptual framework.

3. Stylometrics (or stylometry) is a philological discipline associated with studies of linguistic style. It has its origin in the works of German philologist W. Dittenberger dedicated to the problem of anonymous text attribution. Stylometrics ideas have much in common with metrical studies in other scientific areas: biometrics (F. Galton and K. Pearson), psychometrics (G. Fechner), "art-metrics" (A. Zeising), biometrics,  anthropometry methods used to identify criminals ("bertillonage" by A. Bertillon), econometrics (V. Pareto), and others. At the end of the XXth century the goals of stylometrics were reformulated expanding its area to the broader set of tasks associated with ordering and systematization of texts and their components in regard of stylistic features (e.g., taxonomy, attribution, dating, morphology, periodization, diagnosis, identification) [2].

4. Mathematics of harmony is an interdisciplinary research area that is based on the synthesis of the theory of harmonic proportions and the theory of recurring sequences (such as Fibonacci sequences). In linguistics, it may be used for studying text composition, poetic structure, word frequency lists, rhythmic structures, etc. Mathematical concept of recursion was introduced in linguistics in form of syntactic ideas and the theory of generative grammar by N. Chomsky. When studying syntactic structures, this concept was expanded by adding specific linguistics content. Thereafter, this extended notion of linguistic recursion was brought back to mathematics where it is now used for typology of Fibonacci sequences. Thus, we observe the interdisciplinary migration and evolution of the term "recursion". The interdisciplinary aspect of this study is reinforced by the fact that these mathematical and linguistic structures can be introduced to any other scientific discipline where Fibonacci numbers are used (economics, medicine, architecture, music, etc.) [3].


1. Martynenko, Gregory. 2009. Chislovaja garmonija lingvocenozov [Numerical Harmony in Linguistic Coenoses]. In: Martynenko, Gregory. Vvedenie v teoriju chislovoj garmonii teksta [Introduction to the Theory of Numerical Harmony of Texts]. St. Petersburg: St. Petersburg State University.
2. Martynenko, Gregory. 1988. Osnovy stilemetrii [The Foundations of Stylometrics]. Leningrad: Leningrad State University.
3. Grigoriev, Yuriy, and Martynenko, Gregory. 2012. Tipologija posledovatel'nostej Fibonacci: teorija i prilozhenija. Vvedenie v matematiku garmonii [Typology of Fibonacci's Sequencies: Theory and Applications. An Introduction to the Mathematics of Harmony]. LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing Gmbh & Co. KG.