Multilayer Network of Language: a Unified Framework for Structural Analysis of Linguistic Subsystems

30 Jul 2015  ·  Domagoj Margan, Ana Meštrović, Sanda Martinčić-Ipšić ·

Recently, the focus of complex networks research has shifted from the analysis of isolated properties of a system toward a more realistic modeling of multiple phenomena - multilayer networks. Motivated by the prosperity of multilayer approach in social, transport or trade systems, we propose the introduction of multilayer networks for language. The multilayer network of language is a unified framework for modeling linguistic subsystems and their structural properties enabling the exploration of their mutual interactions. Various aspects of natural language systems can be represented as complex networks, whose vertices depict linguistic units, while links model their relations. The multilayer network of language is defined by three aspects: the network construction principle, the linguistic subsystem and the language of interest. More precisely, we construct a word-level (syntax, co-occurrence and its shuffled counterpart) and a subword level (syllables and graphemes) network layers, from five variations of original text (in the modeled language). The obtained results suggest that there are substantial differences between the networks structures of different language subsystems, which are hidden during the exploration of an isolated layer. The word-level layers share structural properties regardless of the language (e.g. Croatian or English), while the syllabic subword level expresses more language dependent structural properties. The preserved weighted overlap quantifies the similarity of word-level layers in weighted and directed networks. Moreover, the analysis of motifs reveals a close topological structure of the syntactic and syllabic layers for both languages. The findings corroborate that the multilayer network framework is a powerful, consistent and systematic approach to model several linguistic subsystems simultaneously and hence to provide a more unified view on language.

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