Grammatical typology and frequency analysis: Number availability and number use

Dunstan Patrick Brown, Greville Corbett, Sebastian Fedden, Andrew Hippisley, Paul Marriott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Smith-Stark hierarchy, a version of the Animacy Hierarchy, offers a typology of the cross-linguistic availability of number. The hierarchy predicts that the availability of number is not arbitrary. For any language, if the expression of plural is available to a noun, it is available to any noun of a semantic category further to the left of the hierarchy. In this article we move one step further by showing that the structure of the hierarchy can be observed in a statistical model of number use in Russian. We also investigate three co-variates: plural preference, pluralia tantum and irregularity effects; these account for an item's behaviour being different than that solely expected from its animacy position.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-241
JournalJournal of Language Modelling
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2013


  • animacy
  • hierarchy
  • frequency
  • number
  • Russian

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