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Be Careful When Assuming the Obvious: Commentary on “The Placement of the Head that Minimizes Online Memory: A Complex Systems Approach”

Alday, P. M. (2015). Be Careful When Assuming the Obvious: Commentary on “The Placement of the Head that Minimizes Online Memory: A Complex Systems Approach”. Language Dynamics and Change, 5(1), 138-146. doi:10.1163/22105832-00501008.
Ferrer-i-Cancho (this volume) presents a mathematical model of both the synchronic and diachronic nature of word order based on the assumption that memory costs are a never decreasing function of distance and a few very general linguistic assumptions. However, even these minimal and seemingly obvious assumptions are not as safe as they appear in light of recent typological and psycholinguistic evidence. The interaction of word order and memory has further depths to be explored.
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The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

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