Evolution of Part-of-Speech in Classical Chinese

09/23/2020 ∙ by Bai Li, et al. ∙ 0

Classical Chinese is a language notable for its word class flexibility: the same word may often be used as a noun or a verb. Bisang (2008) claimed that Classical Chinese is a precategorical language, where the syntactic position of a word determines its part-of-speech category. In this paper, we apply entropy-based metrics to evaluate these claims on historical corpora. We further explore differences between nouns and verbs in Classical Chinese: using psycholinguistic norms, we find a positive correlation between concreteness and noun usage. Finally, we align character embeddings from Classical and Modern Chinese, and find that verbs undergo more semantic change than nouns.

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