Information Density in English Scientific Writing: A Diachronic Perspective

Project B1

The project investigates the diachronic development of written scientific English, focusing on Information Density. On the basis of relevant data sets (e.g. Royal Society Corpus) computational language models are built for calculating information density/surprisal on different linguistic units (morphemes, words, syntactic phrases/constructions).

Selected phenomena of diachronic variation are investigated w.r.t. the role of information density along with other factors potentially involved in usage change. Both syntagmatic conditions and paradigmatic effects of change are studied.

Keywords: diachronic linguistics, scientific discourse, register variation, relative information density