University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > NLIP Seminar Series > Zipf's law and the grammar of languages: A (potential) cross-linguistic measure of syntheticity

Zipf's law and the grammar of languages: A (potential) cross-linguistic measure of syntheticity

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Ekaterina Kochmar.

Zipf’s law denotes one of the most well known quantitative relationships in NLP . However, it is widely held to be linguistically ‘shallow’ and is ignored by historical and typological linguists. This talk will present evidence that Zipf distributions for parallel texts (~400 languages) differ systematically. The variation seems to be due to differing grammatical encoding strategies of the respective languages. This observation could help to rate languages on a quantitative syntheticity scale. Potential implications for theories of language change and language evolution will be discussed.

This talk is part of the NLIP Seminar Series series.

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