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How the Probabilistic Structure of Grammatical Context Shapes Speech

Department of Linguistics, University of Tuebingen, Wilhelmstraße 19, 72074 Tuebingen, Germany
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Entropy 2020, 22(1), 90; https://doi.org/10.3390/e22010090 (registering DOI)
Received: 31 October 2019 / Revised: 6 January 2020 / Accepted: 7 January 2020 / Published: 11 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information Theory and Language)
Does systematic covariation in the usage patterns of forms shape the sublexical variance observed in conversational speech? We address this question in terms of a recently proposed discriminative theory of human communication that argues that the distribution of events in communicative contexts should maintain mutual predictability between language users, present evidence that the distributions of words in the empirical contexts in which they are learned and used are geometric, and thus support this. Here, we extend this analysis to a corpus of conversational English, showing that the distribution of grammatical regularities and the sub-distributions of tokens discriminated by them are also geometric. Further analyses reveal a range of structural differences in the distribution of types in parts of speech categories that further support the suggestion that linguistic distributions (and codes) are subcategorized by context at multiple levels of abstraction. Finally, a series of analyses of the variation in spoken language reveals that quantifiable differences in the structure of lexical subcategories appears in turn to systematically shape sublexical variation in speech signal. View Full-Text
Keywords: speech variance; communicative efficiency; sampling invariance; power laws; communicative distributions speech variance; communicative efficiency; sampling invariance; power laws; communicative distributions
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Linke, M.; Ramscar, M. How the Probabilistic Structure of Grammatical Context Shapes Speech. Entropy 2020, 22, 90.

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