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Explaining the variation between human languages and the constraints on that variation is a core goal of linguistics. In the last 20 y, it has been claimed that many striking universals of cross-linguistic variation follow from a hypothetical principle that dependency length--the distance between syntactically related words in a sentence--is minimized.(More)
Using recently available dependency corpora , we present novel measures of a key quantitative property of language, word order freedom: the extent to which word order in a sentence is free to vary while conveying the same meaning. We discuss two topics. First, we discuss linguistic and statistical issues associated with our measures and with the annotation(More)
The Pirahã language has been at the center of recent debates in linguistics, in large part because it is claimed not to exhibit recursion, a purported universal of human language. Here, we present an analysis of a novel corpus of natural Pirahã speech that was originally collected by Dan Everett and Steve Sheldon. We make the corpus freely available for(More)
1 English has two syntactically distinct constructions for expressing the possessor and possessum relationship: the s-genitive and the of-genitive: (1) a. the car's wheel b. the wheel of the car The s-genitive (1a) is a single noun phrase, where the possessor car occurs before the possessum wheel accompanied by the possessive clitic –s. The of-genitive (1b)(More)
Proper name systems provide individuals with personal identifiers, and convey social and hereditary information. We identify a common information structure in the name grammars of the world's languages, which makes this complex information processing task manageable, and evaluate the impact that the re-engineering of naming practices for legal and political(More)
In communicating events by gesture, participants create codes that recapitulate the patterns of word order in the world's vocal languages (Gibson et al., 2013; Goldin-Meadow, So, Ozyurek, & Mylander, 2008; Hall, Mayberry, & Ferreria, 2013; Hall, Ferreira, & Mayberry, 2014; Langus & Nespor, 2010; and others). Participants most often convey simple transitive(More)
We present experiments with generative models for linearization of unordered labeled syntactic dependency trees (Belz et al., 2011; Rajkumar and White, 2014). Our linearization models are derived from generative models for dependency structure (Eisner, 1996). We present a series of generative dependency models designed to capture successively more(More)
Studies on the role of memory as a predictor of reading time latencies (1) differ in their predictions about when memory effects should occur in processing and (2) have had mixed results, with strong positive effects emerging from isolated constructed stimuli and weak or even negative effects emerging from naturally-occurring stimuli. Our study addresses(More)
A central goal of typological research is to characterize linguistic features in terms of both their functional role and their fit to social and cognitive systems. One longstanding puzzle concerns why certain languages employ grammatical gender, which assigns nouns to distinct classes and marks neighboring words for agreement. While historically noun(More)