Why are some word orders more common than others? A uniform information density account
published: March 25, 2011, recorded: December 2010, views: 256
Report a problem or upload filesIf you have found a problem with this lecture or would like to send us extra material, articles, exercises, etc., please use our ticket system to describe your request and upload the data.
Enter your e-mail into the 'Cc' field, and we will keep you updated with your request's status.
Languages vary widely in many ways, including their canonical word order. A basic aspect of the observed variation is the fact that some word orders are much more common than others. Although this regularity has been recognized for some time, it has not been well-explained. In this paper we offer an information-theoretic explanation for the observed word-order distribution across languages, based on the concept of Uniform Information Density (UID). We suggest that object-first languages are particularly disfavored because they are highly non-optimal if the goal is to distribute information content approximately evenly throughout a sentence, and that the rest of the observed word-order distribution is at least partially explainable in terms of UID. We support our theoretical analysis with data from child-directed speech and experimental work.
Download slides: nips2010_maurits_wsw_01.pdf (95.5 KB)
Download article: nips2010_0369.pdf (205.4 KB)
Link this pageWould you like to put a link to this lecture on your homepage?
Go ahead! Copy the HTML snippet !