RE: Corpora: Morphology and Word Length (was: Relatve text length)

From: John A Goldsmith (
Date: Sat Apr 27 2002 - 00:17:38 MET DST

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    I'm not sure what you mean by "language-independent morphology," but
    here's a suggestion that is not wildly wrong, and has a lot to be said
    for it -- though it takes the case of concatenative morphology to be the
    central phenomenon of morphology (which is not a terrible assumption).
    Assume that a morphology of a lexicon is (any) phrase-structure grammar
    that generates the words of the lexicon; then the correct morphology of
    that lexicon is the one for which the description length (using that
    grammar) is the shortest ("description length" in the sense of
    Rissanen's Minimum Description Length); this is essentially what I was
    trying to work out in my Computational Linguistics article last year.
    This boils down to being the shortest grammar which best matches the
    empirical distribution (well, that's a rough paraphrase).

    John Goldsmith
    Department of Linguistics
    University of Chicago

    -----Original Message-----
    From: [] On
    Behalf Of Tadeusz Piotrowski
    Sent: Friday, April 26, 2002 11:44 AM
    Subject: FW: Corpora: Morphology and Word Length (was: Relatve text

    Is there really any language-independent morphology? I doubt it, and I
    recall that even for one language there are conficting views on
    morphology, i.e. a word has as many morphemes as the theory allows it.
    Tadeusz Piotrowski

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