A Database for Measuring Linguistic Information Content.


Which languages convey the most information in a given amount of space? This is a question often asked of linguists, especially by engineers who often have some information theoretic measure of ``information'' in mind, but rarely define exactly how they would measure that information. The question is, in fact remarkably hard to answer, and many linguists consider it unanswerable. But it is a question that seems as if it ought to have an answer.

If one had a database of close translations between a set of typologically diverse languages, with detailed marking of morphosyntactic and morphosemantic features, one could hope to quantify the differences between how these different languages convey information. Since no appropriate database exists we decided to construct one. The purpose of this paper is to present our work on the database, along with some preliminary results. We plan to release the dataset once complete.