Interdisciplinary Studies of Linguistics:Language Universals,HumanCognition and

Interdisciplinary Studies of Linguistics:Language Universals,HumanCognition and






This interview examines a recent study on Dependency Distance(length)Minimization, introduces earlier works on and the significance of this topic.Dependency distance,or,dependency length,is taken as an insightful metric of syntactic complexity in the framework of dependency grammar(DG).According to dependency grammar,the syntactic structure of a sentence consists of nothing but dependencies between individual words-an assumption that is widely accepted not only in computational linguistics but also in theoretical linguistics.A dependency relation has the following core properties:it is a binary relation between two linguistic units;it is usually asymmetrical,with one of the two units acting as the governor and the other as dependent;it is classified universals were rarely considered in terms of cognitive constraints and seldom pursued through corpus-based big-data analysis.However,as expounded in this interview,researches into DDM in human languages reveal that it is valuable to cognitively investigate linguistic universals through statistical analysis of big-language-data,which strongly suggests that,to obtain truly scientific discoveries,it may well be essential for linguistic studies to integrate efforts from multiple disciplines �X cognitive science,mathematics,physics and biology,to name just a few.


School of International Studies, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058

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