REDISCOVERING THE CO-OCCURRENCE PRINCIPLES OF VOWEL INVENTORIES: A COMPLEX NETWORK APPROACH
SHAMIK ROY CHOWDHURY
In this work, we attempt to capture patterns of co-occurrence across vowel systems and at the same time figure out the nature of the force leading to the emergence of such patterns. For this purpose, we define a weighted network where the vowels are the nodes and an edge between two nodes (read vowels) signifies their co-occurrence likelihood over the vowel inventories. Through this network we identify communities of vowels, which essentially reflect their patterns of co-occurrence across languages. We observe that in the communities formed by the frequently occurring vowels, the constituent nodes are largely uncorrelated in terms of their features and show that they are formed based on the principle of maximal perceptual contrast. However, in the rest of the communities, strong correlations are reflected among the constituent vowels with respect to their features, indicating that it is the principle of feature economy that binds them together. We validate the above observations by proposing a quantitative measure of perceptual contrast as well as feature economy and subsequently comparing the results obtained due to these quantifications with those where we assume that the vowel inventories had evolved just by chance.
Vowels, complex network, community structure, feature economy, feature entropy
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