Paper: Not as Awful as it Seems: Explaining German Case through Computational Experiments in Fluid Construction Grammar

ACL ID E12-1084
Title Not as Awful as it Seems: Explaining German Case through Computational Experiments in Fluid Construction Grammar
Venue Annual Meeting of The European Chapter of The Association of Computational Linguistics
Session Main Conference
Year 2012
Authors

German case syncretism is often assumed to be the accidental by-product of historical development. This paper contradicts this claim and argues that the evolution of Ger- man case is driven by the need to optimize the cognitive effort and memory required for processing and interpretation. This hy- pothesis is supported by a novel kind of computational experiments that reconstruct and compare attested variations of the Ger- man definite article paradigm. The exper- iments show how the intricate interaction between those variations and the rest of the German ?linguistic landscape? may direct language change.