Department of Mathematics
 Search | Help | Login | pdf version | printable version

Math @ Duke



Publications [#40001] of W Garrett Mitchener

Papers Published

  1. W. G. Mitchener, A Simulation of Language Change in the Presence of Non-Idealized Syntax (June, 2005) (Proceedings of the workshop Psychocomputational Models of Human Language Acquisition, held at the 43rd annual meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, June 2005..) [pdf]
    (last updated on 2005/08/09)

    Both Middle English and Old French had a syntactic property called verb-second or V2 that disappeared. This paper describes a simulation being developed to shed light on the question of why V2 is stable in some languages, but not others. The simulation, based on a Markov chain, uses fuzzy grammars where speakers can use an arbitrary mixture of idealized grammars. Thus, it can mimic the variable syntax observed in Middle English manuscripts. The simulation supports the hypotheses that children use the topic of a sentence for word order acquisition, that acquisition takes into account the ambiguity of grammatical information available from sample sentences, and that speakers prefer to speak with more regularity than they observe in the primary linguistic data.
ph: 919.660.2800
fax: 919.660.2821

Mathematics Department
Duke University, Box 90320
Durham, NC 27708-0320