A bathtub by any other name: the reduction of German compounds in predictive contexts


The Uniform Information Density hypothesis (UID) predicts that lexical choice between long and short word forms depends on the predictability of the referent in context, and recent studies have shown such an effect of predictability on lexical choice during online production. We here set out to test whether the UID predictions hold up in a related setting, but different language (German) and different phenomenon, namely the choice between compounds (e.g. Badewanne / bathtub) or their base forms (Wanne / tub). Our study is consistent with the UID: we find that participants choose the shorter base form more often in predictive contexts, showing an active tendency to be information-theoretically efficient.

Proceedings of the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society
Alessandra Zarcone
Alessandra Zarcone
Professor of Language Technologies and Cognitive Assistants

Computational linguist with a background in NLP and in psycholinguistics, working on human-machine interaction.