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date: 22 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Linguistic phenomena at all levels display properties of continua and show markedly gradient behavior. While categorical approaches have focused on the endpoints of distributions of linguistic phenomena, probabilistic linguistics focuses on the gradient middle ground. This chapter discusses how grammatical formalisms can be extended with a probabilistic interpretation, in particular within the data-oriented parsing framework. The chapter considers some well-known probabilistic models and show how these can deal with gradient phenomena in perception, production, acquisition and variation. Probabilistic linguistics proposes that frequencies are an inherent part of the human language system and that new expressions are constructed by generalizing over previously analyzed expressions. Relations with other models are discussed and the consequences of the probabilistic view for Universal Grammar.

Keywords: gradience, frequency, probability model, data-oriented parsing, constructions, grammaticality judgments, alternations, acquisition, productive units, universal grammar

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