James Blevins

James Blevins

dates de séjour

15/09/2012 - 15/07/2013




Assistant Director of research


Université de Cambridge, Angleterre

pays d'origine


projet de recherche

Morphological complexity

This project aims to develop an integrated measure of morphological complexity, using established information-theoretic techniques to integrate paradigmatic and syntagmatic sources of complexity. Within the paradigmatic dimension, complexity correlates with the uncertainty associated with a paradigm cell (or set of cells), given knowledge of one or more forms of the same item. Within the syntagmatic dimension, complexity correlates with the surprisal of an expansion given knowledge of some initial subsequence in the expansion. Morphology provides a suitable domain for this study given that the space of variation is considerably larger than in phonology but much better mapped out than in syntax. Moreover, the use of information-theoretic constructs not only offers a consolidated measure, but explains how other factors, such as expansion length or hierarchical domain size, correlate indirectly with the ultimate sources of complexity. To a significant extent, complexity is determined by the size of a choice space, and other factors interact with complexity insofar as they influence this size of this space or contribute to the difficulty of traversing it.


Cette résidence a bénéficié d'une aide de l'État gérée par l'Agence nationale de la recherche dans le cadre des programmes d'Investissements d'avenir au titre du Laboratoire d'excellence RFIEA+.


James Blevins teaches morphology and syntax in the University of Cambridge. He received his PhD in linguistics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1990. His primary research interests focus on word-based approaches to inflectional morphology and constraint-based treatments of discontinuous grammatical dependencies. His areal interests fall mainly within Germanic, Finnic and Kartvelian; current projects use information theory to measure the complexity of languages from these families.