Leveling between Old High German and Modern High German: The role of conditional entropy in determining directionality

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    In Old High German (OHG) inflectional paradigm s , there are five verb stems from which all verb
    forms are built, represented by infinitive, present 1 st singular, past 1 st singular, past 1 st plural and
    past participle. When they merge into the three stem paradigm s in Modern High German, different
    directions of leveling are attested, e.g. the past 1 st singular stem spreads into other past forms in
    Strong Class III , while it is leveled by the past 1 st plural stem in Strong Class I & V. The
    non consistency of the direction of leveling across strong verbs in the his tory of German remains
    unexplained.
    An information theoretic approach to the solution to this problem is made , under the assumption
    that stems that have higher predictiveness over other stems in OHG paradigm s should be more
    likely to serve as the base for leveling in analogical change. In this study, lemmata with a token
    frequenc y of 10 or more in Das Referenzkorpus Altdeutsch are examined, with the five base stems
    of each lemma morpholo gically segmented . The predictability of one stem in OHG paradigm
    infl ected based on another is measured by conditional entropy, i.e. the amount of uncertainty of
    the former given the latter. The lower the entropy , the higher the predictiveness o f a projecting
    direction from one stem to another.
    The results are consistent with the attested direction of leveling in most cases, if verbs in each
    strong class are examined individually, e.g. in Strong Class I, the direction of leveling from past 1 st
    plural to past 1 st singular enjoys higher predictiveness than the reverse direction , and it is exactly
    the attested direction of leveling. The study thus provides evidence that conditional entropy can
    play a crucial role in determining the direction of leveling in general, based on the se diachronic
    change s in German inf lectional paradigms.

    Reference
    Ackerman, Farrell & Malouf, Robert. 2013. Morphological Organization: The Low Conditional
    Entropy Conjecture. Language . 89. 429 464.
    Stump, Gregory & Finkel, Raphael A. 2013.
    Morphological Typology: From Word to Paradigm .
    Cambridge Un iversity Press.
    Das Referenzkorpus Altdeutsch:
    https://www.deutschdiachrondigital.de/zugang/

 

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