Congress 1226
  • José Ramom Pichel, Pablo Gamallo, Iñaki Alegria
  • Fifth Workshop on NLP for Similar Languages, Varieties and Dialects, co-located at COLING-2018. Santa Fe, Estados Unidos. 2018

Measuring language distance among historical varieties using perplexity. Application to European Portuguese

The objective of this work is to quantify, with a simple and robust measure, the distance between historical varieties of a language. The measure will be inferred from text corpora corresponding to historical periods. Different approaches have been proposed for similar aims: Language Identification, Phylogenetics, Historical Linguistics or Dialectology. In our approach, we used a perplexity-based measure to calculate language distance between all the historical periods of that language: European Portuguese. Perplexity has already proven to be a robust metric to calculate distance between languages. However, this mea- sure has not been tested yet to identify diachronic periods within the historical evolution of a specific language. For this purpose, a historical Portuguese corpus has been constructed from different open sources containing texts with spelling close to the original one. The re- sults of our experiments show that Portuguese keeps an important degree of homogeneity over time. We anticipate this metric to be a starting point to be applied to other languages.
Keywords: language distance, historical corpus, linguistic change, perplexity
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