On the Complexity and Typology of Inflectional Morphological Systems Journal Article uri icon



  • We quantify the linguistic complexity of different languages’ morphological systems. We verify that there is a statistically significant empirical trade-off between paradigm size and irregularity: A language’s inflectional paradigms may be either large in size or highly irregular, but never both. We define a new measure of paradigm irregularity based on the conditional entropy of the surface realization of a paradigm— how hard it is to jointly predict all the word forms in a paradigm from the lemma. We estimate irregularity by training a predictive model. Our measurements are taken on large morphological paradigms from 36 typologically diverse languages.

publication date

  • November 1, 2019

has restriction

  • gold

Date in CU Experts

  • February 5, 2020 7:35 AM

Full Author List

  • Cotterell R; Kirov C; Hulden M; Eisner J

author count

  • 4

Other Profiles

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2307-387X

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 327

end page

  • 342


  • 7