Syntax-semantics interactions – seeking evidence from a synchronic analysis of 38 languages
Tom S. Juzek, Yuri Bizzoni
March 2021

The notion that, to facilitate processing, as semantic complexity increases, syntactic complexity decreases, follows from various linguistic theories. This brief report presents the results of testing that notion, by analysing synchronic data from 38languages and correlating canonical measures of semantic and syntactic difficulty. We expected an overall positive tendency. However, the results came out mixed to negative. There is a notable degree of variation and there are no clear tendencies within language families. After detailing the theoretic and cognitive reasons that support the original hypothesis, we conclude with a short discussion about the potential causes and implications of our findings. A possible interpretation is that the interaction we are looking for is more subtle than one might have assumed.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005870
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: F1000Research
keywords: cognitive linguistics, corpus analysis, syntax, semantics, syntax-semantics interactions, efficient communication, dependency grammars, universal dependencies, null results, semantics, syntax
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