It was probably in the 1980s (not sure) and probably in Scientific American (not sure) that I read an article reporting on research that had analyzed the frequency of letters, pairs of letters and triplets and quadruplets of letters in four or five languages. Two of the languages were English and Italian. I don't remember the other two or three.
The authors -- or rather, their computer -- then "wrote" a paragraphs in each language using the frequency rules for that language, first for letters only, then for letters plus pairs of letters, then adding triplets and finally adding quadruplets.
It was fascinating the way the paragraphs progressed from pure nonsense resembling nothing, to nonsense closely resembling each language. To a non-Italian speaker, the last Italian paragraph -- the one including the quadruplet rules -- looked like Italian. The English looked as though it ought to make sense....maybe with a few glasses of wine it would.
Does anyone recognize this article or this research?
Has this research been followed up? Are there applications of this research, or linguistic insights resulting from it?