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Istituto di linguistica computazionale "Antonio Zampolli"

Torna all'elenco Contributi in rivista anno 2019

Contributo in rivista

Tipo: Articolo in rivista

Titolo: A processing-oriented investigation of inflectional complexity

Anno di pubblicazione: 2019

Formato: Elettronico

Autori: Marzi, Claudia; Ferro, Marcello; Pirrelli, Vito

Affiliazioni autori: ILC-CNR

Autori CNR:


Lingua: inglese

Abstract: Due to the typological diversity of their inflectional processes, some languages are intuitively more difficult than other languages. Yet, finding a single measure to quantitatively assess the comparative complexity of an inflectional system proves an exceedingly difficult endeavor. In this paper we propose to investigate the issue from a processing-oriented standpoint, using data processed by a type of recurrent neural network to quantitatively model the dynamic of word processing and learning in different input conditions. We evaluate the relative complexity of a set of typologically different inflectional systems (Greek, Italian, Spanish, German, English and Standard Modern Arabic) by training a Temporal Self-Organizing Map (TSOM), a recurrent variant of Kohonen's Self-Organizing Maps, on a fixed set of verb forms from top-frequency verb paradigms, with no information about the morphosemantic and morphosyntactic content conveyed by the forms. After training, the behavior of each language-specific TSOM is assessed on different tasks, looking at self-organizing patterns of temporal connectivity and functional responses. Our simulations show that word processing is facilitated by maximally contrastive inflectional systems, where verb forms exhibit the earliest possible point of lexical discrimination. Conversely, word learning is favored by a maximally generalizable system, where forms are inferred from the smallest possible number of their paradigm companions. Based on evidence from the literature and our own data, we conjecture that the resulting balance is the outcome of the interaction between form frequency and morphological regularity. Big families of stem-sharing, regularly inflected forms are the productive core of an inflectional system. Such a core is easier to learn but slower to discriminate. In contrast, less predictable verb forms, based on alternating and possibly suppletive stems, are easier to process but are learned by rote. Inflection systems thus strike a balance between these conflicting processing and communicative requirements, while staying within tight learnability bounds, in line with Ackermann and Malouf's Low Conditional Entropy Conjecture. Our quantitative investigation supports a discriminative view of morphological inflection as a collective, emergent system, whose global self-organization rests on a surprisingly small handful of language-independent principles of word coactivation and competition.

Lingua abstract: inglese

Pagine da: 1

Pagine a: 23

Pagine totali: 23


Frontiers in communication Frontiers Media
Paese di pubblicazione: Svizzera
Lingua: inglese
ISSN: 2297-900X

Numero volume: 4

Numero fascicolo: 48

DOI: 10.3389/fcomm.2019.00048

Referee: Sė: Internazionale

Stato della pubblicazione: Published version

Parole chiave:

  • Morphological complexity
  • Discriminative learning
  • Recurrent neural networks (RNNs)
  • self-organization
  • emergence
  • processing uncertainty
  • stem-family size

URL: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fcomm.2019.00048/full

Data di accettazione: 19/08/2019

Strutture CNR:


  • A processing-oriented investigation of inflectional complexity (application/pdf)
  • A processing-oriented investigation of inflectional complexity (APPENDIX) (application/pdf)
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