Probing probabilistic grammars in diachrony

Lecture Room 3 - Arts Building
Arts and Law
Tuesday 22nd January 2013 (16:15-17:30)
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  • Benedikt Szmrecsanyi (University of Manchester)


The paper, which is based on work reported in Wolk et al. (to appear), presents a cross-constructional approach to the history of the genitive alternation and the dative alternation in Late Modern English (AD 1650 to AD 1999). On the basis of richly annotated datasets and modern statistical modeling techniques, I seek to identify cross-constructional similarities in the development of the genitive and the dative alternation over time (mainly with regard to the loosening of the animacy constraint), a development which parallels distributional changes in animacy categories in the corpus material. On the theoretical plane, the paper transfers the notion of 'probabilistic grammar' to historical data and claims that the corpus models presented reflect past speaker's knowledge about the distribution of genitive and dative variants.

  • Wolk, C, Bresnan J., Rosenbach A. & Szmrecsanyi B. (to appear). ‘Dative and genitive variability in Late Modern English: Exploring cross-constructional variation and change’. Diachronica

About the English Language Research seminars

  • Convener: Neil Millar

The ELR seminars are a long-running weekly research seminar series within the Department of English, English Language and Applied Linguistics Division. The seminars are aimed primarily at staff, postgraduate students, and academic visitors in the department, but everyone with an interest in language research is welcome! Seminars are usually held on Tuesdays during term time, starting at 4:15 and finishing around 5:30.