Morphological systems across languages vary when it comes to the relation between form and meaning. In some languages, a single unit of meaning corresponds to a single morpheme, whereas in other languages, multiple units of meaning are bundled together into one morpheme. These two types of languages have been called agglutinative and fusional, respectively, but this distinction does not capture the continuous nature of the phenomenon. We provide a mathematically precise way of characterizing morphological systems using partial information decomposition, which is a framework for decomposing mutual information into three components: unique, redundant, and synergistic information. We show that highly fusional languages are characterized by high levels of synergy.
At this week’s MCQLL meeting on Tuesday, April 5 at 3:00-4:00, Michaela Socolof will give a talk titled ‘Characterizing morphological systems using partial information decomposition.’ If you’d like to attend, please register for the Zoom meeting here if you haven’t already.