The complexity of inflectional systems

Gregory Stump, Raphael A. Finkel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


We regard the complexity of any inflection-class system as the extent to which the similarities among its inflection classes tend to inhibit motivated inferences about the word forms realizing a paradigm's cells. We propose ten objective measures of this sort of complexity. We apply these measures in comparing the declensional systems of Latin and Sanskrit, which we represent in a standard format that we call a "plat"; we execute these measurements with an online tool that is freely available for readers to use. We show that the ten measures are not equivalent; together, they show that the declensional systems of Latin and Sanskrit are roughly comparable in complexity. We discuss a number of methodological issues raised by this new approach to typological comparison.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-117
Number of pages17
JournalLinguistics Vanguard
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Linguistics Vanguard. All rights reserved.


  • Complexity
  • Inflection
  • Morphology
  • Typology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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