Explaining Grammatical Coding Asymmetries: Form-Frequency Correspondences and Predictability. Haspelmath, M.
abstract   bibtex   
This paper claims that a wide variety of grammatical coding asymmetries can be explained as adaptations to the language users' needs, in terms of frequency of use, predictability and coding efficiency. I claim that all grammatical oppositions involving a minimal meaning difference and a significant frequency difference are reflected in a universal coding asymmetry, i.e. a cross-linguistic pattern in which the less frequent member of the opposition gets special coding, unless the coding is uniformly explicit or uniformly zero. I give 25 examples of pairs of construction types, from a substantial range of grammatical patterns. For some of them, the existing evidence from the world's languages and from corpus counts is already strong, while for others, I know of no counterevidence and I make readily testable claims. I also discuss how the functional-adaptive forces operate in language change, and I discuss a number of possible alternative explanations.
@article{Haspelmath,
  title = {Explaining Grammatical Coding Asymmetries: {{Form}}-Frequency Correspondences and Predictability},
  author = {Haspelmath, Martin},
  pages = {26},
  abstract = {This paper claims that a wide variety of grammatical coding asymmetries can be explained as adaptations to the language users' needs, in terms of frequency of use, predictability and coding efficiency. I claim that all grammatical oppositions involving a minimal meaning difference and a significant frequency difference are reflected in a universal coding asymmetry, i.e. a cross-linguistic pattern in which the less frequent member of the opposition gets special coding, unless the coding is uniformly explicit or uniformly zero. I give 25 examples of pairs of construction types, from a substantial range of grammatical patterns. For some of them, the existing evidence from the world's languages and from corpus counts is already strong, while for others, I know of no counterevidence and I make readily testable claims. I also discuss how the functional-adaptive forces operate in language change, and I discuss a number of possible alternative explanations.},
  file = {/Users/mmaldona/Zotero/storage/M6LTFSI3/Haspelmath - Explaining grammatical coding asymmetries Form-fr.pdf},
  language = {en}
}
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