Ling 236: Quantitative,
Probabilistic, and OptimizationBased Explanation in Linguistics 
Course Syllabus 
(updated 2002/02/25) 
This is a tentative syllabus and is subject to change (hit reload!).
Date 
Topic 
Out 
Due 
Week 1 



Wednesday, 9 Jan 02 
Introduction: Motivation of probabilistic and statistical approaches. 
HW #1 

Linguistics: What motivates probabilistic approaches in syntax? Problems of categoricity. The greater explanatory power of probabilistic models. Some examples. Statistics: Probability intro: counting, basic probability laws, maximum likelihood; discrete and continuous distributions; Bernoulli, binomial, and multinomial distributions; joint and conditional probability, independence, Bayes Rule. John Goldsmith. 2001. Probability
for linguists. Microsoft
Word or converted
to HTML. or Christopher Manning and Hinrich
Schütze. 1999. Foundations of Statistical Natural Language Processing.
Chapter 2, pp. 3954, 6068, 7276. or Rice, John A. Mathematical Statistics and Data Analysis. 2^{nd} edition. Duxbury Press, 1995. 



Week 2 



Wednesday, 16 Jan 02 
Grammatical weight & contingency table statistics 
HW #2 
HW#1 
Linguistics: Tom Wasow, Remarks on grammatical weight, Language Variation and Change 9: 81–105, 1997. Statistics: Contingency table data: the chisquare test and Fisher’s exact test




Week 3 



Wednesday, 23 Jan 02 
Probabilistic grammars, subcategorization & statistical inference 
HW #3 
HW #2 
Linguistics: Roland and Jurafsky. Verb Sense and Verb Subcategorization Probabilities. CUNY 1998. Christopher D. Manning. 2002. Probabilistic Syntax. To appear in Rens Bod, Jennifer Hay, and Stefanie Jannedy (eds.), Probabilistic Linguistics, MIT Press. Section 3.1. Briefly discussed: contents of: Douglas Biber, Susan Conrad, and Randi Reppen. Corpus Linguistics: Investigating Language Structure and Use. Cambridge University Press, 1998, Section 3.4 and 3.5. Statistics: Tests for proportions or odds: mean and variance, ztest, ttest, likelihood ratios: log odds ratios, and G^{2 }test. 



Week 4 



Wednesday, 30 Jan 02 
sgenitives and the ofgenitive in English & statistical inference 

HW #3 
Linguistics: Anette Rosenbach: Aspects of iconicity and economy in the choice between the sgenitive and the ofgenitive in English. To appear in B. Mondorf and G. Rohdenburg (eds), Determinants of Grammatical Variation in English. Mouton de Gruyter. Altenberg. The Genitive v. the ofConstruction. [Reference.] Suppes, Patrick. 1970. Probabilistic grammars for natural
languages. Synthèse 22: 95116. Statistics: Samples and statistical inference, estimating parameters, the method of maximum likelihood, maximum likelihood for multinomial cell probabilities 



Week 5 



Wednesday, 6 Feb 02 
Grammaticality and variation: linear regression models 
HW #4 

Linguistics: Labov, William. 1969. Contraction, deletion and inherent variability of the English copula. Language 45, 71562, extract. Statistics: Linear regression: simple and multiple linear regression 



Week 6 



Wednesday, 13 Feb 02 
Linear regression models and Active vs. passive 
HW#5 
HW #4 
Linguistics. Keller, Frank. 2000. Gradience in
Grammar: Experimental and Computational Aspects of Degrees of Grammaticality.
PhD Thesis, University of Edinburgh. Selections Dominique Estival and John Myhill. Formal and functional aspects of the development from passive to ergative systems. In M. Shibatani (ed), Passive and Voice John Benjamins, 1988. 



Week 7 



Wednesday, 20 Feb 02 
Active/Passive and Stochastic Optimality Theory. 
HW #7 
HW #6 
Linguistics: Joan
Bresnan, Shipra Dingare, and Christopher D. Manning. Soft Constraints
Mirror Hard Constraints: Voice and Person in English and Lummi.
Proceedings of the LFG01 Conference, pp. 1332, Hong Kong. [pdf] Christopher D. Manning. 2002. Probabilistic Syntax. To appear in Rens Bod, Jennifer Hay, and Stefanie Jannedy (eds.), Probabilistic Linguistics, MIT Press. Section 5 through 5.5. Statistics: Stochastic optimality theory. Boersma and Hayes intro. Boersma, How we learn. Paul Boersma. 1999. OptimalityTheoretic learning in the Praat program. IFA Proceedings 23: 1735; (ROA 380) 



Week 8 



Wednesday, 27 Feb 02 
Active vs. passive variation and logistic regression (a.k.a. Varbrul) 
HW #7 
HW #6 
Linguistics: E. Judith Weiner and William Labov. 1983. Constraints on the agentless passive. Journal of Linguistics 19: 2958 Extra background/interest: Beatriz R. Lavandera. Where does the sociolinguistic variable stop? Language in Society 7:171–182. T. Nadasdi. French Subject NP doubling. LVC 7 (1995). Christopher D. Manning. 2002. Probabilistic
Syntax. To appear in Rens Bod, Jennifer Hay, and Stefanie Jannedy (eds.),
Probabilistic Linguistics, MIT Press. Section 5.65.7. Statistics: Logistic regression. Sankoff, D. 1988. Variable rules. In U. Ammon, N. Dittmar, and K. J. Mattheier (eds.), Sociolinguistics: An International Handbook of the Science of Language and Society. Vol.2, pp. 984997. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. Logistic regression notes 

Final paper outline 

Week 9 



Wednesday, 6 Mar 02 
Psycholinguistics and generalized linear
models of syntactic variation


HW #7 
LinguisticsArnold, Wasow, Losongco & Ginstrom Language. Heaviness vs. Newness. Jurafsky, Psycholinguistics extracts. Statistics: exponential/loglinear models 



Week 10 



Wednesday, 13 Mar 02 
Multidimensional analysis of ‘register’ and ‘genre’ or Something else that seems more interesting at the time. 


Linguistics: Douglas Biber, Susan Conrad, and Randi Reppen. Corpus
Linguistics: Investigating Language Structure and Use. Cambridge
University Press, 1998, Chapter 6, Methodology Box 10. Biber, Douglas., S. 1993. The multidimensional approach to linguistic analyses of genre variation: An overview of methodology and findings. Computers and the Humanities 26: 331–345. Statistics: Principal Component analysis and related techniques (SVD, multidimensional scaling) 



The End 

Final paper 
Discards (we
didn’t get to this) 





Linguistics: Rena Torres Cacoullos. From lexical to grammatical to social meaning. Language in Society 30: 443 – 478 . 2001. R. Fasold: The Quiet Demise of Variable Rules. In R. Singh
(ed) Towards a Critical Sociolinguistics. John Benjamins 1996. Statistics: Inference about means: the normal distribution,
mean and variance, hypothesis testing: the ttest, alternatives like the sign
test. 




Historical Linguistics



Linguistics
Susan Pintzuk, Variation and change in Old English clause
structure, Language Variation and Change, 7: 229–260, 1995. O. Fischer, A van Kemenade, W. Koopman, W. van der Wurff.
2000. The Syntax of Early English. Cambridge University Press.
selection [reference]. John Harris: Syntactic variation and dialect divergence. In
R. Singh (ed) Towards a Critical Sociolinguistics. John Benjamins 1996. 

