A quantitative global test of the complexity trade-off hypothesis: the case of nominal and verbal grammatical marking

Linguistics Vanguard Vol/Iss. 9(s1) Walter de Gruyter GmbH Published In Pages: 155-167
By Shcherbakova, Olena, Gast, Volker, Blasi, Damian E., Skirgård, Hedvig, Gray, Russell D. , Greenhill, Simon J.


There is a trade-off of complexity between nominal and verbal domains across languages in a global scale.


Instead, there are lineage-specific results. Austroneasian languages show no relationship and Sino-Tibetan languages show a positive correlation (r = 0.5). Nonetheless, Indo-European languages show an inversely correlation in one of the phylogenies (r = −0.58), meaning that there might be a trade-off between nominal and verbal domains.


Test NameSupportSignificanceCoefficientTail
Bayesian correlationNot supported95% HPDr = 0.09UNKNOWN


Variable NameVariable Type OCM Term(s)
Nominal metricAssociationGrammar
Verbal metricAssociationGrammar