Using rank-frequency and type-token statistics to compare morphological typology in the Celtic languages

Wilson, Andrew and Harvey, Rosie (2019) Using rank-frequency and type-token statistics to compare morphological typology in the Celtic languages. Journal of Quantitative Linguistics. ISSN 0929-6174

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Tristram (2009) applied Greenberg’s (1960) synthetism index to compare three of the Celtic languages: Irish, Welsh, and Breton. She did not analyse samples of the other three Celtic languages – Scottish Gaelic, Manx, and Cornish. This paper expands on her work by comparing all six Celtic languages, including two periods of Irish (Early Modern and Present Day). The analysis is based on a random sample of 210 parallel psalm texts (30 for each language). However, Greenberg’s synthetism index is problematic because there are no operational standards for counting morphemes within words. We therefore apply a newer typological indicator (B7; Popescu, Mačutek & Altmann, 2009), which is based solely on lexical rank-frequency statistics. Following Kelih (2010), we also explore whether type-token counts alone can provide similar information. The B7 indicator shows that both varieties of Irish, together with Welsh and Cornish, tend more towards synthetism, whereas Manx tends more towards analytism. Breton and Scottish Gaelic do not show a clear tendency in either direction. Rankings using type-token statistics vary considerably and do not tell the same story.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Quantitative Linguistics
Additional Information:
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Quantitative Linguistics on 1/4/2019, available online:
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? typologysynthetismrank-frequency statisticstype-token statisticscelticlanguage and linguisticslinguistics and language ??
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Deposited On:
13 Dec 2018 09:50
Last Modified:
22 Jul 2024 00:13