Measuring language distance for historical texts in Basque

Ainara Estarrona, Izaskun Etxeberria, Manuel Padilla-Moyano, Ander Soraluze


Measuring distance between languages, dialects and language varieties, both synchronically and diachronically, is a topic of growing interest in NLP. Based on our Syntactically Annotated Historical COrpus in BAsque (SAHCOBA) and previous work in perplexity-based language distance proposed by Gamallo, Pichel and Alegria (2017, 2020), we have compared historical corpora with current texts in the standard variety and calculated the language distances between them. As the standard Basque is based on the central dialects, the starting hypothesis is that the oldest texts and the dialects on the extremes will be the most distant. The results obtained have largely confirmed the thesis of traditional dialectology: peripheral dialects show a strong idiosyncrasy and are more distant from the rest.

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