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Word‐Length distribution in Inuktitut narratives: Empirical and theoretical findings

  • This paper deals with the distribution of word length in short native mythological and historical Eskimo narrative texts. To my knowledge, no Eskimo‐Aleut data have been the object of quantitative linguistic investigation so far. Due to the strong linguistic and Stylistic homogeneity of the examined texts it was assumed that these texts can be subsumed under a single law of word length distribution, if word length distribution of a text is considered as a function of certain of its properties, such as author, language, and genre. So far, word length distribution in texts of a wide variety of languages and genres has been demonstrated to follow distributions of the compound Poisson family of discrete probability distributions. In view of the morphological idiosyncrasies of the Eskimo language in general, which are responsible for an unusually high mean word length of about 4.5 to 5.2 syllables per word in the texts, it is interesting to see whether Eskimo texts show a significantly different behaviour with respect to word length. The results demonstrate that the Eskimo data employed in this study can be fitted well by the Hyperpoisson distribution. Two further discrete probability distributions will be deduced from certain morphology‐based assumptions about Eskimo. It turns out that most of the Eskimo data can be fitted by these two distributions. The question to what extent these results point to a more grammar‐oriented theory of word length is also discussed.

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Author:Peter MeyerGND
Parent Title (English):Journal of Quantitative Linguistics
Document Type:Article
Year of first Publication:1997
Date of Publication (online):2015/06/30
Tag:language statistics
GND Keyword:Erzählstruktur; Inuktitut; Sprachstatistik; Wortlänge
First Page:143
Last Page:155
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in "Journal of Quantitative Linguistics" in 1997, available online: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09296179708590090
Dewey Decimal Classification:400 Sprache / 410 Linguistik
Open Access?:Ja
Licence (German):Es gilt das UrhG