Towards the Foundations of Menzerath’s Law

On the Functional Dependence of Affix Length On their Positional Number Within Words
  • Anatolij A. Polikarpov
Part of the Text, Speech and Language Technology book series (TLTB, volume 31)

Based on the suggestions of the Model of a sign’s life cycle, this article offers a foundation of the logics of the word formation process, from which general regularities are derived concerning the length relation of words and of morphemes. Furthermore, a representative sample of Russian language data is analyzed (50787 Russian root words and affixal-derivational words) for a preliminary test of the suggested model. Primary attention is paid to one of the most fundamental regularities in the organization of language — the negative dependence of the length of affixes and the magnitudes of the ordered numbers of their sequence within a word. The conclusion is drawn that this dependence can be formalized in the form of a logarithmic dependence: y = a·ln(x+c)+b, where y is the mean length of affixes in position x in some numbered position in their word forms, a the coefficient of proportionality; b the average length of affixes in the initial (—3rd) position within word forms present in the analyzed dictionary; and c — the coefficient for converting a negative-positive scale into a purely positive one.


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Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anatolij A. Polikarpov
    • 1
  1. 1.Proezd KaramzinaMoskvaRussia

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