Network statistics on early English Syntax: Structural criteria

Bernat Corominas-Murtra
Arxiv ID: 704.3708Last updated: 5/23/2007
This paper includes a reflection on the role of networks in the study of English language acquisition, as well as a collection of practical criteria to annotate free-speech corpora from children utterances. At the theoretical level, the main claim of this paper is that syntactic networks should be interpreted as the outcome of the use of the syntactic machinery. Thus, the intrinsic features of such machinery are not accessible directly from (known) network properties. Rather, what one can see are the global patterns of its use and, thus, a global view of the power and organization of the underlying grammar. Taking a look into more practical issues, the paper examines how to build a net from the projection of syntactic relations. Recall that, as opposed to adult grammars, early-child language has not a well-defined concept of structure. To overcome such difficulty, we develop a set of systematic criteria assuming constituency hierarchy and a grammar based on lexico-thematic relations. At the end, what we obtain is a well defined corpora annotation that enables us i) to perform statistics on the size of structures and ii) to build a network from syntactic relations over which we can perform the standard measures of complexity. We also provide a detailed example.

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