The Department of Linguistics, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University cordially invites you to a special lecture:

Noun phrase word order across languages reflects simplicity and naturalness” by Jennifer Culbertson (The University of Edinburgh)

Date:  March 16, 2018 at 13.30-14.30

Venue: 401/17 Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Building, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University

 

Abstract:

Looking across the world’s languages, we can often see that not all possible linguistic patterns are equally common. Explaining why this is the case is a topic of longstanding debate in cognitive science. In this talk, I will focus on one well-studied example, the order of elements in the noun phrase. I will argue that two very general forces–simplicity and naturalness–can largely explain why some noun phrase orders are much more common than others. Simplicity pushes languages to maintain a consistent order of the head noun with respect to different modifying elements (e.g., demonstratives, adjectives, numerals). Naturalness favors alignment between linear order and underlying semantic or conceptual structure. I will outline a series of experiments aimed at confirming the behavioral effects of these forces, and report a cross-linguistic quantitative analysis of corpus data exploring how the semantic representations underlying naturalness in this domain might emerge during development.

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