Published July 1, 2022 | Version v1
Conference paper Open

Morphological Complexity of Children Narratives in Eight Languages

  • 1. University of Zagreb
  • 2. Jerusalem College of Technology
  • 3. Institute for the Croatian Language and Linguistics
  • 4. Masaryk University
  • 5. Vytautas Magnus University
  • 6. Mykolas Romeris University


The aim of this study was to compare the morphological complexity in a corpus representing the language production of younger and older children across different languages. The language samples were taken from the Frog Story subcorpus of the CHILDES corpora, which comprises oral narratives collected by various researchers between 1990 and 2005. We extracted narratives by typically developing, monolingual, middle-class children. Additionally, samples of Lithuanian language, collected according to the same principles, were added. The corpus comprises 249 narratives evenly distributed across eight languages: Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Lithuanian, Russian and Spanish. Two subcorpora were formed for each language: a younger children corpus and an older children corpus. Four measures of morphological complexity were calculated for each subcorpus: Bane, Kolmogorov, Word entropy and Relative entropy of word structure. The results showed that younger children corpora had lower morphological complexity than older children corpora for all four measures for Spanish and Russian. Reversed results were obtained for English and French, and the results for the remaining four languages showed variation. Relative entropy of word structure proved to be indicative of age differences. Word entropy and relative entropy of word structure show potential to demonstrate typological differences.



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