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Corpus-based typology: Applications, challenges and some solutions

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Levshina,  Natalia
Neurobiology of Language Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Levshina, N. (in press). Corpus-based typology: Applications, challenges and some solutions. Linguistic Typology.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-1575-D
Abstract
Over the last few years, the number of corpora that can be used for language comparison has dramatically increased. The corpora are so diverse in their structure, size and annotation style, that a novice might not know where to start. The present paper charts this new and changing territory, providing a few landmarks, warning signs and safe paths. Although no corpora corpus at present can replace the traditional type of typological data based on language description in reference grammars, they corpora can help with diverse tasks, being particularly well suited for investigating probabilistic and gradient properties of languages and for discovering and interpreting cross-linguistic generalizations based on processing and communicative mechanisms. At the same time, the use of corpora for typological purposes has not only advantages and opportunities, but also numerous challenges. This paper also contains an empirical case study addressing two pertinent problems: the role of text types in language comparison and the problem of the word as a comparative concept.