Patterns in syntactic dependency networks

  • Ferrer i Cancho R
  • Solé R
  • Köhler R
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Abstract

Many languages are spoken on Earth. Despite their diversity, many robust language universals are known to exist. All languages share syntax, i.e., the ability of combining words for forming sentences. The origin of such traits is an issue of open debate. By using recent developments from the statistical physics of complex networks, we show that different syntactic dependency networks (from Czech, German, and Romanian) share many nontrivial statistical patterns such as the small world phenomenon, scaling in the distribution of degrees, and disassortative mixing. Such previously unreported features of syntax organization are not a trivial consequence of the structure of sentences, but an emergent trait at the global scale.

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Authors

  • Ramon Ferrer i Cancho

  • Ricard V. Solé

  • Reinhard Köhler

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