Degaetano-Ortlieb, Stefania; Teich, Elke

Information-based modeling of diachronic linguistic change: from typicality to productivity

Proceedings of Language Technologies for the Socio-Economic Sciences and Humanities (LATECH'16), Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL), Association for Computational Linguistics, pp. 165-173, Berlin, Germany, 2016.

We present a new approach for modeling diachronic linguistic change in grammatical usage. We illustrate the approach on English scientific writing in Late Modern English, focusing on grammatical patterns that are potentially indicative of shifts in register, genre and/or style. Commonly, diachronic change is characterized by the relative frequency of typical linguistic features over time. However, to fully capture changing linguistic usage, feature productivity needs to be taken into account as well. We introduce a data-driven approach for systematically detecting typical features and assessing their productivity over time, using information-theoretic
measures of entropy and surprisal.