Morphological triggers of syntactic changes: Treebank-based Information Theoretic approach

Abstract : This paper addresses the classic problem of the triggers of the passage from a relatively free word order to a strict SVO in the history of French ([26], [9], [8], [28], [12], [7]). We present a corpus-based modelling of two, likewise classic, lines of analysis. First, we explore the link between the loss of word order freedom and the disappearance of morphological case marking ([22], [23], [6], [20], [14]). Second, we evaluate the syncretisation of verbal agreement and massive appearance of overt preverbal subject pronouns ([1], [19], [21]) as a potential analogical trigger of a generalized SVO (e.g. [3] for an analogy-based explanation of the change in nominal syntax in Old English). Although the analytical intuitions themselves have a long history, only recently has it become possible to perform their quantitative evaluations due to the availability of large (for historical data) annotated treebanks of Medieval French ([15], [16], and [24]).
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Alexandra Simonenko, Benoît Crabbé, Sophie Prévost. Morphological triggers of syntactic changes: Treebank-based Information Theoretic approach. Treebanks and Linguistic Theories (TLT), Dec 2015, Varsovie, Poland. ⟨hal-01240245⟩

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