Vol. 13, No. 1
The Frequency of Major Sentence Types over Discourse Levels: A Corpus Analysis
University of California, San Diego
Many recent models of language comprehension have stressed the role of distributional frequencies in determining the relative accessibility or ease of processing associated with a particular lexical item or sentence structure. However, there exist relatively few comprehensive analyses of the absolute as well as relative frequencies of major sentence types. The goal of the present work is to present initial findings from such a study. We report the results of an analysis of parsed versions of two written and one spoken corpus (Wall Street Journal, Brown, and Switchboard, respectively). Frequencies of six major types of grammatical structures were calculated: Active Declaratives, Passives, Subject Relatives, Subject Clefts, Object Clefts, and Object Relatives. We discuss both practical as well as theoretical implications of problems inherent in such an analysis.