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  Re-evaluating phoneme frequencies

Macklin-Cordes, J. L., & Round, E. R. (2020). Re-evaluating phoneme frequencies. Frontiers in Psychology, 11: 570895. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.570895.

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Item Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-739B-9 Version Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-739C-8
Genre: Journal Article

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Supplementary Information (S1-S5) (Supplementary material)
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S1: Neutral expectations about phonemes’ lexical and discourse frequencies. - S2: Guide to data and code. - S3: Original wordlist sources. - S4: Comparison of phoneme inventories in Ausphon and Phoible. - S5: Tables of results. - (last checked: Nov. 2020)
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Data (S6-S7) (Supplementary material)
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S6: Data viewer. - S7: Data and code. - (last checked: Nov. 2020)

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 Creators:
Macklin-Cordes, Jayden L., Author
Round, Erich R.1, Author              
Affiliations:
1Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society, ou_2074311              

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Free keywords: power laws, Zipf's law, phoneme inventories, distributions, maximum likelihood, Australian languages, phonology
 Abstract: Causal processes can give rise to distinctive distributions in the linguistic variables that they affect. Consequently, a secure understanding of a variable's distribution can hold a key to understanding the forces that have causally shaped it. A storied distribution in linguistics has been Zipf's law, a kind of power law. In the wake of a major debate in the sciences around power-law hypotheses and the unreliability of earlier methods of evaluating them, here we re-evaluate the distributions claimed to characterize phoneme frequencies. We infer the fit of power laws and three alternative distributions to 166 Australian languages, using a maximum likelihood framework. We find evidence supporting earlier results, but also nuancing them and increasing our understanding of them. Most notably, phonemic inventories appear to have a Zipfian-like frequency structure among their most-frequent members (though perhaps also a lognormal structure) but a geometric (or exponential) structure among the least-frequent. We compare these new insights the kinds of causal processes that affect the evolution of phonemic inventories over time, and identify a potential account for why, despite there being an important role for phonetic substance in phonemic change, we could still expect inventories with highly diverse phonetic content to share similar distributions of phoneme frequencies. We conclude with priorities for future work in this promising program of research.

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Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2020-11-20
 Publication Status: Published online
 Pages: 17
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: Introduction
Materials and Methods
- Data
- Statistical framework
Results
- Power law distribution with x(min)
- Alternative distributions
- Lognormal distribution
- Exponential distribution
- Poisson distribution
- Summary of results by individual distribution type
- Evaluation of comparative Best fit
Discussion
- Power laws in Linguistics
- Findings from a more reliable evaluation procedure
- Distributions: Outcome of stochastic processes linked to casual factors
- Casual processes of phoneme addition, removal, and redistribution
- Implications for explanatory accounts
- Reasons to seek wider horizons
Conclusions
 Rev. Type: Peer
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.570895
Other: shh2768
 Degree: -

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Title: Frontiers in Psychology
  Abbreviation : Front Psychol
Source Genre: Journal
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Publ. Info: Pully, Switzerland : Frontiers Research Foundation
Pages: 3181 Volume / Issue: 11 Sequence Number: 570895 Start / End Page: - Identifier: ISSN: 1664-1078
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/1664-1078