Register variation remains stable across 60 languages

Haipeng Li, Jonathan Dunn, Andrea Nini

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Abstract

This paper measures the stability of cross-linguistic register variation. A register is a variety of a language that is associated with extra-linguistic context. The relationship between a register and its context is functional: the linguistic features that make up a register are motivated by the needs and constraints of the communicative situation. This view hypothesizes that register should be universal, so that we expect a stable relationship between the extra-linguistic context that defines a register and the sets of linguistic features which the register contains. In this paper, the universality and robustness of register variation is tested by comparing variation within versus between register-specific corpora in 60 languages using corpora produced in comparable communicative situations: tweets and Wikipedia articles. Our findings confirm the prediction that register variation is, in fact, universal.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCorpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory
Early online date20 Sept 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Sept 2022

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