Opendata, web and dolomites


Form-frequency correspondences in grammar

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






Project "FormGram" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
postcode: 4109

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Germany [DE]
 Project website
 Total cost 1˙772˙625 €
 EC max contribution 1˙772˙625 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2014-ADG
 Funding Scheme ERC-ADG
 Starting year 2015
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2015-11-01   to  2020-10-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    UNIVERSITAET LEIPZIG DE (LEIPZIG) coordinator 1˙772˙625.00


 Project objective

This project will document and explain a substantial number of grammatical universals by demonstrating a link between cross-linguistic patterns of language form and general trends of language use. The claim is that frequently expressed meanings tend to be expressed by short forms, not only at the level of words, but also throughout the grammars of languages around the world (form-frequency correspondences). A simple example is the asymmetry in the coding of present-tense forms and future-tense forms in the world’s languages, as one out of a multitude of analogous cases: Present-tense forms tend to be short or zero-coded, while future-tense forms tend to be longer or to have an overt marker. This corresponds to a usage asymmetry: Present-tense forms are generally more frequent than future-tense forms, in all languages. The proposed explanation is that higher-frequency items are more predictable than lower-frequency items, and predictable content need not be expressed overtly or can be expressed by shorter forms. Form-frequency correspondences thus make language structure more efficient, but it still needs to be shown that there exists a mechanism that creates and maintains these efficient structures: recurrent instances of language change driven by the speakers’ preference for user- friendly utterances. The project thus combines cross-linguistic research on grammar, cross-linguistic corpus research and historical linguistics in a ground- breaking way. For reasons that have to do with the history of the discipline, form-frequency correspondences are still largely overlooked and ignored by linguists, so the current project will have a significant impact on our general understanding of human language.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2016 Natalia Levshina
Why we need a token-based typology: A case study of analytic and lexical causatives in fifteen European languages
published pages: 507–542, ISSN: 0165-4004, DOI: 10.1515/flin-2016-0019
Folia Linguistica 50/2 2019-07-05
2017 Levshina, Natalia
published pages: , ISSN: 2083-4616, DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.582337
Research in Language 5 2019-07-05
2016 Dagmar Divjak, Natalia Levshina, Jane Klavan
“Cognitive Linguistics: Looking back, looking forward”
published pages: 235-268, ISSN: 0936-5907, DOI: 10.1515/cog-2016-0095
Cognitive Linguistics 27/4 2019-07-05
2017 Haspelmath, Martin
Universals of causative and anticausative verb formation and the spontaneity scale
published pages: , ISSN: 2083-6090, DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.807021
Lingua Posnaniensis 2 2019-07-05
2017 Levshina, Natalia & Liesbeth Degand.
Just because: In search of objective criteria of subjectivity expressed by causal connectives.
published pages: 132-150, ISSN: 2152-9620, DOI: 10.5087/dad.2017.105
Dialogue & Discourse 8 (1) 2019-07-05
2016 Natalia Levshina
Verbs of letting in Germanic and Romance languages: A quantitative investigation based on a parallel corpus of film subtitles
published pages: 84-117, ISSN: 1387-6759, DOI: 10.1075/lic.16.1.04lev
Languages in Contrast 16/1 2019-07-05
2017 Haspelmath, Martin
Explaining alienability contrasts in adpossessive constructions: Predictability vs. iconicity
published pages: , ISSN: 1613-3706, DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.583231
Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft 3 2019-07-05
2017 Levshina, Natalia
Measuring iconicity: A quantitative study of lexical and analytic causatives in British English
published pages: , ISSN: 1569-9765, DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.582339
Functions of Language 4 2019-07-05
2016 Natalia Levshina
When variables align: A Bayesian multinomial mixed-effects model of English permissive constructions
published pages: 235-268, ISSN: 0936-5907, DOI: 10.1515/cog-2015-0054
Cognitive Linguistics 27/2 2019-07-05
2016 M. Haspelmath
The Serial Verb Construction: Comparative Concept and Cross-linguistic Generalizations
published pages: 291-319, ISSN: 1606-822X, DOI: 10.1177/2397002215626895
Language and Linguistics 17/3 2019-07-05
2016 Natalia Levshina
Control, causation and Google counts1
published pages: 253-263, ISSN: 1384-5845, DOI: 10.5117/NEDTAA2016.2.LEVS
Nederlandse Taalkunde 21/2 2019-07-05
2017 Ilja Serzants
The Perfect/Resultative in Tocharian.
published pages: 237-288, ISSN: , DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.573318
The Typology of the Perfect. Investigations into the Theory of Grammar. Issue VII 2019-07-05
2017 Karsten Schmidtke-Bode, Holger Diessel
Cross-linguistic patterns in the structure, function, and position of (object) complement clauses
published pages: 1-38, ISSN: 0024-3949, DOI: 10.1515/ling-2016-0035
Linguistics 55/1 2019-07-05
2016 Martin Haspelmath
The challenge of making language description and comparison mutually beneficial
published pages: 299-301, ISSN: 1430-0532, DOI: 10.1515/lingty-2016-0008
Linguistic Typology 20/2 2019-07-05
2017 Michaelis, Susanne Maria
World-wide comparative evidence for calquing valency patterns in creoles
published pages: , ISSN: 1877-4091, DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.844615
Journal of Language Contact 1 2019-07-05
2017 Levshina, Natalia
Online film subtitles as a corpus: An ngram-based approach
published pages: , ISSN: 2083-4616, DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.582336
Research in Language 5 2019-07-05
2018 Robert Forkel, Johann-Mattis List, Simon J. Greenhill, Christoph Rzymski, Sebastian Bank, Michael Cysouw, Harald Hammarström, Martin Haspelmath, Gereon A. Kaiping, Russell D. Gray
Cross-Linguistic Data Formats, advancing data sharing and re-use in comparative linguistics
published pages: 180205, ISSN: 2052-4463, DOI: 10.1038/sdata.2018.205
Scientific Data 5 2019-04-18
2017 Haspelmath, Martin
How comparative concepts and descriptive linguistic categories are different (revised)
published pages: , ISSN: , DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.798726
2 2019-04-03
2018 Haspelmath, Martin
Role-reference associations and the explanation of argument coding splits (draft)
published pages: , ISSN: , DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.1163410
1 2019-04-03
2018 Natalia Levshina
Probabilistic grammar and constructional predictability: Bayesian generalized additive models of help + (to) Infinitive in varieties of web-based English
published pages: , ISSN: 2397-1835, DOI: 10.5334/gjgl.294
Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 3/1 2019-04-03
2017 Haspelmath, Martin
Explaining alienability contrasts in adpossessive constructions: Predictability vs. iconicity
published pages: 193-231, ISSN: 1613-3706, DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.788663
Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft 36(2) 1 2019-04-03
2016 Natalia Levshina
Finding the best fit for direct and indirect causation: a typological study
published pages: 65-82, ISSN: 2083-6090, DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.582333
Lingua Posnaniensis, Vol 58, Iss 2 1 2019-04-03
2016 Martin Haspelmath
Universals of causative and anticausative verb formation and the spontaneity scale
published pages: 33-63, ISSN: 2083-6090, DOI: 10.1515/linpo-2016-0009
Lingua Posnaniensis 58/2 2019-04-03
2017 Michaelis, Susanne Maria
Avoiding bias in comparative creole studies: Stratification by lexifier and substrate
published pages: , ISSN: , DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.1255789
1 2019-04-03

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