Degaetano-Ortlieb, Stefania; Krielke, Marie-Pauline; Scheurer, Franziska; Teich, Elke

A diachronic perspective on efficiency in language use: that-complement clause in academic writing across 300 years

Proceedings of the 10th International Corpus Linguistics Conference, Cardiff, Wales, UK, 2019.

Efficiency in language use and the role of predictability in context have attracted many researchers from different fields (Zipf 1949; Landau 1969; Fidelholtz 1975, Jurafsky et al. 1998; Bybee and Scheibman 1999; Genzel and Charniak 2002; Aylett and Turk 2004; Hawkins 2004; Piantadosi et al. 2009, Jaeger 2010). The analysis of reduction processes, where linguistic units are reduced/omitted has enhanced our knowledge on efficiency in communication. Possible factors affecting retention or omission of an optional element include discourse context (cf. Thompson and Mulac 1991), the amount of information a unit transmits given its context (known as surprisal, cf. Jaeger 2010) or the complexity of the syntagmatic environment (Rohdenburg 1998). So far, the role change in language use plays has been less considered.