Stenger, Irina; Georgis, Philip; Avgustinova, Tania; Möbius, Bernd; Klakow, Dietrich

Modeling the Impact of Syntactic Distance and Surprisal on Cross-Slavic Text Comprehension

Proceedings of the Language Resources and Evaluation Conference, European Language Resources Association, pp. 7368-7376, Marseille, France, 2022.

We focus on the syntactic variation and measure syntactic distances between nine Slavic languages (Belarusian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Polish, Slovak, Slovene, Russian, and Ukrainian) using symmetric measures of insertion, deletion and movement of syntactic units in the parallel sentences of the fable „The North Wind and the Sun“. Additionally, we investigate phonetic and orthographic asymmetries between selected languages by means of the information theoretical notion of surprisal. Syntactic distance and surprisal are, thus, considered as potential predictors of mutual intelligibility between related languages. In spoken and written cloze test experiments for Slavic native speakers, the presented predictors will be validated as to whether variations in syntax lead to a slower or impeded intercomprehension of Slavic texts.