Preferential Attachment and Language Change: werden in German
thesisposted on 01.03.2021, 23:24 by Valentina Concu
This study explores historical syntactic changes within a complex network framework focusing on the development of the German verb werden (to become) and the emergence of the related passive and future periphrases. The data are collected from a corpus of Middle and Early New High German texts and the analysis of the instances is carried out in two different stages. The first stage focuses on the frequency of the verb werden and the elements that co-occurred with it throughout Middle and Early New High German. The second stage investigates the same instances through a complex network framework by applying descriptive statistics to uncover the features of the Middle and Early New High German networks that have been created with the occurrences of werden found in the corpus.
The results of the analysis show that werden experienced an increase in the type of connections it was able to establish throughout the centuries. Such a process is known in the literature as preferential attachment. This suggests that linguistic networks, and specifically, syntactic networks, are also subjected to processes that are common among non-linguistic networks.