Functional Load¶
About the function¶
Functional load is a measure of the “work” that any particular contrast does in a language, as compared to other contrasts (e.g., [Hockett1955], [Hockett1966]; [Kucera1963]; [King1967]; [Surendran2003]). Two contrasts in a language, such as [d] / [t] vs. [ð] / [θ] in English, may have very different functional loads. The difference between [d] and [t] is used to distinguish between many different lexical items, so it has a high functional load; there are, on the other hand, very few lexical items that hinge on the distinction between [ð] and [θ], so its functional load is much lower. One of the primary claims about functional load is that it is related to sounds’ propensity to merge over time, with pairs of sounds that have higher functional loads being less likely to merge than pairs of sounds with lower functional loads (e.g., [Wedel2013], [Todd2012]). The average functional load of a particular sound has also been claimed to affect its likelihood of being used as an epenthetic vowel [Hume2013]. Functional load has also been illustrated to affect the perceived similarity of sounds [Hall2014a].
Method of calculation¶
There are two primary ways of calculating functional load that are provided as part of the PCT package. One is based on the change of entropy in a system upon merger of a segment pair or set of segment pairs (cf. [Surendran2003]); the other is based on simply counting up the number of minimal pairs (differing in only the target segment pair or pairs) that occur in the corpus.
Change in entropy¶
The calculation based on change in entropy is described in detail in [Surendran2003]. Entropy is an InformationTheoretic measure of the amount of uncertainty in a system [Shannon1949], and is calculated using the formula in (1); it will also be used for the calculation of predictability of distribution (see Method of calculation). For every symbol i in some inventory (e.g., every phoneme in the phoneme inventory, or every word in the lexicon), one multiplies the probability of i by the \(log_{2}\) of the probability of i; the entropy is the sum of the products for all symbols in the inventory.
Entropy:
\(H = \sum_{i \in N} p_{i} * log_{2}(p_{i})\)
The functional load of any pair of sounds in the system, then, can be calculated by first calculating the entropy of the system at some level of structure (e.g., words, syllables) with all sounds included, then merging the pair of sounds in question and recalculating the entropy of the new system. That is, the functional load is the amount of uncertainty (entropy) that is lost by the merger. If the pair has a functional load of 0, then nothing has changed when the two are merged, and \(H_{1}\) will equal \(H_{2}\). If the pair has a nonzero functional load, then the total inventory has become smaller through the conflating of pairs of symbols that were distinguished only through the given pair of sounds.
Functional load as change in entropy:
\(\Delta H = H_{1}  H_{2}\)
Consider a toy example, in which the following corpus is assumed (note that, generally speaking, there is no “type frequency” column in a PCT corpus, as it is assumed that each row in the corpus represents 1 type; it is included here for clarity):
Consider a toy example, in which the following corpus is assumed (note that, generally speaking, there is no “type frequency” column in a PCT corpus, as it is assumed that each row in the corpus represents 1 type; it is included here for clarity):
Word 
Original 
Under [h] / [ŋ] merger 
Under [t] / [d] merger 


Trans. 
Type Freq. 
Token Freq. 
Trans. 
Type Freq. 
Token Freq. 
Trans. 
Type Freq. 
Token Freq. 

hot 
[hɑt] 
1 
2 
[Xɑt] 
1 
2 
[hɑX] 
1 
2 
song 
[sɑŋ] 
1 
4 
[sɑX] 
1 
4 
[sɑŋ] 
1 
4 
hat 
[hæt] 
1 
1 
[Xæt] 
1 
1 
[hæX] 
1 
1 
sing 
[sɪŋ] 
1 
6 
[sɪX] 
1 
6 
[sɪŋ] 
1 
6 
tot 
[tɑt] 
1 
3 
[tɑt] 
1 
3 
[XɑX] 
1 
8 
dot 
[dɑt] 
1 
5 
[dɑt] 
1 
5 
[XɑX] 

hip 
[hɪp] 
1 
2 
[Xɪp] 
1 
2 
[hɪp] 
1 
2 
hid 
[hɪd] 
1 
7 
[Xɪd] 
1 
7 
[hɪX] 
1 
7 
team 
[tim] 
1 
5 
[tim] 
1 
5 
[Xim] 
1 
10 
deem 
[dim] 
1 
5 
[dim] 
1 
5 
[Xim] 

toot 
[tut] 
1 
9 
[tut] 
1 
9 
[XuX] 
1 
11 
dude 
[dud] 
1 
2 
[dud] 
1 
2 
[XuX] 

hiss 
[hɪs] 
1 
3 
[Xɪs] 
1 
3 
[hɪs] 
1 
3 
his 
[hɪz] 
1 
5 
[Xɪz] 
1 
5 
[hɪz] 
1 
5 
sizzle 
[sɪzəl] 
1 
4 
[sɪzəl] 
1 
4 
[sɪzəl] 
1 
4 
dizzy 
[dɪzi] 
1 
3 
[dɪzi] 
1 
3 
[Xɪzi] 
1 
7 
tizzy 
[tɪzi] 
1 
4 
[tɪzi] 
1 
4 
[Xɪzi] 

Total 
17 
70 
17 
70 
13 
70 
The starting entropy, assuming word types as the relative unit of structure and counting, is:
\(H_{1  types} = [(\frac{1}{17} log_{2}(\frac{1}{17})) + (\frac{1}{17} log_{2}(\frac{1}{17})) + (\frac{1}{17} log_{2}(\frac{1}{17})) + (\frac{1}{17} log_{2}(\frac{1}{17})) + (\frac{1}{17} log_{2}(\frac{1}{17}))\\ + (\frac{1}{17} log_{2}(\frac{1}{17})) + (\frac{1}{17} log_{2}(\frac{1}{17})) + (\frac{1}{17} log_{2}(\frac{1}{17})) + (\frac{1}{17} log_{2}(\frac{1}{17})) + (\frac{1}{17} log_{2}(\frac{1}{17})) + (\frac{1}{17} log_{2}(\frac{1}{17}))\\ + (\frac{1}{17} log_{2}(\frac{1}{17})) + (\frac{1}{17} log_{2}(\frac{1}{17})) + (\frac{1}{17} log_{2}(\frac{1}{17})) + (\frac{1}{17} log_{2}(\frac{1}{17})) + (\frac{1}{17} log_{2}(\frac{1}{17})) + (\frac{1}{17} log_{2}(\frac{1}{17}))] =4.087\)
The starting entropy, assuming word tokens, is:
\(H_{1  tokens} = [(\frac{2}{70} log_{2}(\frac{2}{70})) + (\frac{4}{70} log_{2}(\frac{4}{70})) + (\frac{1}{70} log_{2}(\frac{1}{70})) + (\frac{6}{70} log_{2}(\frac{6}{70})) + (\frac{3}{70} log_{2}(\frac{3}{70}))\\ + (\frac{5}{70} log_{2}(\frac{5}{70})) + (\frac{2}{70} log_{2}(\frac{2}{70})) + (\frac{7}{70} log_{2}(\frac{7}{70})) + (\frac{5}{70} log_{2}(\frac{5}{70})) + (\frac{5}{70} log_{2}(\frac{5}{70})) + (\frac{9}{70} log_{2}(\frac{9}{70}))\\ + (\frac{2}{70} log_{2}(\frac{2}{70})) + (\frac{3}{70} log_{2}(\frac{3}{70})) + (\frac{5}{70} log_{2}(\frac{5}{70})) + (\frac{4}{70} log_{2}(\frac{4}{70})) + (\frac{3}{70} log_{2}(\frac{3}{70})) + (\frac{4}{70} log_{2}(\frac{4}{70}))] = 3.924\)
Upon merger of [h] and [ŋ], there is no change in the number of unique words; there are still 17 unique words with all their same token frequencies. Thus, the entropy after an [h] / [ŋ] merger will be the same as it was before the merger. The functional load, then would be 0, as the premerger and postmerger entropies are identical.
Upon merger of [t] and [d], on the other hand, four pairs of words have been collapsed. E.g., the difference between team and deem no longer exists; there is now just one word, [Xim], where [X] represents the result of the merger. Thus, there are only 13 unique words, and while the total token frequency count remains the same, at 70, those 70 occurrences are divided among only 13 unique words instead of 17.
Thus, the entropy after a [t] / [d] merger, assuming word types, is:
\(H_{2  types} = [(\frac{1}{13} log_{2}(\frac{1}{13})) + (\frac{1}{13} log_{2}(\frac{1}{13})) + (\frac{1}{13} log_{2}(\frac{1}{13})) + (\frac{1}{13} log_{2}(\frac{1}{13})) + (\frac{1}{13} log_{2}(\frac{1}{13}))\\ + (\frac{1}{13} log_{2}(\frac{1}{13})) + (\frac{1}{13} log_{2}(\frac{1}{13})) + (\frac{1}{13} log_{2}(\frac{1}{13})) + (\frac{1}{13} log_{2}(\frac{1}{13})) + (\frac{1}{13} log_{2}(\frac{1}{13})) + (\frac{1}{13} log_{2}(\frac{1}{13}))\\ + (\frac{1}{13} log_{2}(\frac{1}{13})) + (\frac{1}{13} log_{2}(\frac{1}{13}))] = 3.700\)
And the entropy after a [t] / [d] merger, assuming word tokens, is:
\(H_{2  tokens} = [(\frac{2}{70} log_{2}(\frac{2}{70})) + (\frac{4}{70} log_{2}(\frac{4}{70})) + (\frac{1}{70} log_{2}(\frac{1}{70})) + (\frac{6}{70} log_{2}(\frac{6}{70})) + (\frac{8}{70} log_{2}(\frac{8}{70}))\\ + (\frac{2}{70} log_{2}(\frac{2}{70})) + (\frac{7}{70} log_{2}(\frac{7}{70})) + (\frac{10}{70} log_{2}(\frac{10}{70})) + (\frac{11}{70} log_{2}(\frac{11}{70})) + (\frac{3}{70} log_{2}(\frac{3}{70})) + (\frac{5}{70} log_{2}(\frac{5}{70}))\\ + (\frac{4}{70} log_{2}(\frac{4}{70})) + (\frac{7}{70} log_{2}(\frac{7}{70}))] = 3.466\)
Then, the functional load of [t] / [d] based on word types is:
\(\Delta H = H_{1types}  H_{2types} = 4.087– 3.700 = 0.387\)
And the functional load of [t] / [d] based on word tokens is:
\(\Delta H = H_{1tokens}  H_{2tokens} = 3.924– 3.466 = 0.458\)
Rather than taking the difference directly, however, [Surendran2003] normalizes the difference by dividing it by the entropy of the corpus before the merger. PCT defaults to normalizing the difference, but you can choose not to normalize, and just return the difference in entropies as given above.
Returning to the above examples, we would normalize the functional load of [t] / [d] based on word types by dividing the difference given above, 0.387, by the entropy premerger, 4.087, and see that the normalized version is:
\(\Delta H = 0.387 / 4.087 = 0.0947\)
And analogously, for the normalized functional load of [t] / [d] based on word tokens, we get:
\(\Delta H = 0.458 / 3.924 = 0.1167\)
Note that the typical way of calculating DeltaH functional load is to use word tokens, not word types.
(Relative) Minimal Pair Counts¶
The second means of calculating functional load that is included in PCT is a straight count of minimal pairs, which can be relativized either to the total number of words in the corpus, or to the number of words in the corpus that are potential minimal pairs—i.e. the number of words in the corpus with at least one of the target segments.
In the above example, the number of minimal pairs that hinge on [h] vs. [ŋ] is of course 0, so the functional load of [h] / [ŋ] is 0. The number of minimal pairs that hinge on [t] / [d] is 3, the total number of words in the corpus is 17, and the number of words with either [t] or [d] is 11. Thus, the raw minimal pair count would be 3; the minimal pair count relativized to the corpus length would be 3 / 17 = 0.176; and the minimal pair count relativized to the number of words containing [t] or [d] is 3 / 11 = 0.273. Note that here, a relatively loose definition of minimal pair is used; specifically, two words are considered to be a minimal pair hinging on sounds A and B if, upon merger of A and B into a single symbol X, the words are identical. Thus, toot and dude are considered a minimal pair on this definition, because they both become [XuX] upon merger of [t] and [d]. Also note that either version of the relativization relies on dividing the number of PAIRS by the total number of relevant WORDS; it is intended just to provide some relative measure, rather than to be straightforwardly interpretable as, say, a percentage.
The difference between the two relativizations is that relativizing to the corpus allows for direct comparison between functional loads of different pairs in the same corpus as well as the comparison of functional loads across corpora. Within a single corpus, raw minimal pair counts can be directly compared, but a raw minimal pair count of 5 would be indicative of a highly contrastive pair if there are only 15 words in the corpus, while being indicative of a lowcontrast pair in a corpus of 15000 words. Thus, relativizing to the corpus size is useful for crosscorpus comparisons.
On the other hand, relativizing to the number of words containing the segments in question is more informative about their own “relative” contrastiveness in comparison to their “potential” for contrast, an issue discussed in [Martin2014]. In particular, imagine that we have a toy corpus with 100 words. There are 5 minimal pairs based on [m]/[n], and 5 minimal pairs based on [b]/[d]. These would be identical functional loads as far as either of the first two measures are concerned (i.e., raw counts, where the FLs would be 5 and 5, or counts relativized to corpus size, where the FLs would be 5 / 100 = 0.05 and 0.05).
But, if there are 18 words in the corpus that contain either [m] or [n] (or both), and 80 words in the corpus that contain either [b] or [d] (or both), then the minimal pair counts relativized to the number of words with the relevant segments will differ widely. Now, the functional load of [m]/[n] would be 5 / 18 (=0.278), while that of [b]/[d] would be 5 / 80 (=0.0625), much lower. In other words, the [b]/[d] contrast is making much less use of its potential for contrast than the [m]/[n] contrat.
A benefit of this approach is that it does take into account the relative frequency of the sounds in any given pair (see also [Martin2014]). That is, for sounds that are less frequent overall, we would _expect_ there to be fewer minimal pairs, and by relativizing to only the number of words containing at least one of the two sounds in the pair, we capture that expectation: Intuitively, it makes sense that if [m] and [n] in the above example are so much less frequent than [b] and [d], then having five minimal pairs hinging on [m] and [n] is more surprising than having five minimal pairs hinging on [b] and [d], so we want to say that the [m] / [n] contrast does more work in distinguishing lexical items than does [b]/[d].
The problem with this approach is that it conflates “work done by distinguishing lexical items” with “predictability of distribution,” which can be calculated separately in PCT (see Predictability of Distribution). That is, minimal pairs provide examples of environments that are unpredictable. So for the [m]/[n] case, what is happening is that the sounds are often in unpredictable contexts (i.e., minimal pairs) relative to their total distribution, while [b] and [d] are generally not in completely unpredictable contexts, though that happens occasionally (relative to their distribution).
Thus, this way of measuring “functional load” (i.e., minimal pair counts relative to the number of words in the corpus containing the relevant segments) in fact conflates a measure of lexical distinction (the classic definition of functional load) and a measure of predictability of distribution. This can be seen in the following graph showing the correlation of predictability of distribution to minimal pair counts relativized to the number of words containing the relevant segments, for (some) pairs of obstruents in the [IPHOD] corpus (with a correlation coefficient of r = 0.75):
While functional load and predictability of distribution are correlated with each other regardless, the measure of functional load relative to the number of words containing the relevant segments is more highly correlated than the other measures of functional load. The two are generally correlated because pairs of sounds with a high functional load must provide many examples of the unpredictable environments, and so high functional load tends to be associated with a high entropy score (low degree of predictability of distribution). The converse, however, is not true. That is, pairs of sounds with a low functional load may have either a high or low predictability of distribution. They could have a low functional load because they are infrequent in the language, but do occur in minimal pairs (and therefore have a low degree of predictability of distribution / high entropy), or they could have a low functional load because they are frequent in the language but never occur in the same context, in which case, they would have a high degree of predictability of distribution (low entropy). Using either the absolute measure of functional load (raw number of minimal pairs) or one relativized only to the corpus size will minimize the correlation between functional load and predictability of distribution. This can be seen in the following graph, which again shows the correlation of predictability of distribution to functional load for pairs of obstruents in the [IPHOD] corpus, but using the count of minimal pairs relativized to the corpus size. Here, the correlation is only r = 0.61.
The resulting calculations of functional load are thus quite similar between the two algorithms (change in entropy vs. minimal pair count), though the units are entirely different. Functional load based on change in entropy is measured in bits, while functional load based on relativized minimal pair counts is simply a percentage. Also note that functional load based on minimal pairs is only based on type frequency; the frequency of the usage of the words is not used as a weighting factor, the way it can be under the calculation of functional load as change in entropy.
Furthermore, if raw minimal pair count is used, or minimal pairs relativized to the size of the corpus, these will be perfectly analogous to the (nonstandard) calculation of functional load based on change in entropy using word types (rather than tokens). This is shown below, where the same pairs of obstruents in the [IPHOD] corpus are shown with their typebased DeltaH entropy on the yaxis and their raw minimal pair counts on the xaxis (r = 0.999):
Thus, using either typebased changeinentropy or raw minimal pair counts, or minimal pair counts relative to the length of the whole corpus, will all provide equivalent measurements of functional load. In particular, note that this means that typebased changeinentropy will be analogous to the minimal pair counts advocated by [Wedel2013]. Tokenbased changeinentropy should be used to either emulate [Surendran2003], or to specifically take into account the actual frequency with which words are used. Minimal pair count relative to the number of words containing the relevant segments should be used to get a sense of the degree to which a contrast meets its “potential” for contrast, but should be used with caution, understanding that it does conflate functional load and predictability of distribution.
Average Functional Load¶
[Hume2013] suggests that the average functional load (there called “relative contrastiveness”) is a useful way of indicating how much work an individual segment does, on average, in comparison to other segments. This is calculated by taking an individual segment, calculating the pairwise functional load of that segment and each other segment in the inventory (using any of the methods described above), and then taking the average across all those pairs. This calculation can also be performed in PCT.
Environment Filters¶
In addition to simply calculating functional load based on any occurrence of the segments in question, one can limit the occurences that “count” as occurrences of those segments by specific environments. For example, one might be interested in the functional load not of [t] / [d] in all positions, but only in wordfinal positions. If the corpus contained the words hit, hid, tizzy, dizzy, mop, and shop, then one could calculate the functional load of [t] / [d] in the corpus (e.g., there are two minimal pairs that hinge on this contrast), or one could specify that one is only interested in wordfinal [t] / [d] occurrences, and then find that the functional load of wordfinal [t] / [d] consists of one minimal pair. The algorithms for calculating functional load are the same as above, i.e., using either minimal pairs or change in entropy; the only difference is which instances of the segments are considered to be eligible for inclusion in the calculation.
Calculating functional load in the GUI¶
As with most analysis functions, a corpus must first be loaded (see Loading in corpora). Once a corpus is loaded, use the following steps.
Getting started: Choose “Analysis” / “Calculate functional load…” from the top menu bar.
Sound selection: First, decide whether you want to calculate the average functional load of a single segment (i.e., its functional load averaged across all possible pairwise comparisons), or the more standard functional load of a pair of sounds, defined over segments or features. (Note that calculating the average functional load across all the pairwise comparisons will take several minutes.) To calculate the average functional load of a single sound, choose “Add one segment”; to calculate the pairwise functional load of two segments, choose “Add pair of segments”; to calculate the pairwise functional load based on features, choose “Add sets of segments based on features.”
For details on how to actually select segments or features, see Sound Selection or Feature Selection as relevant.
When multiple individual segments or individual pairs are selected, each entry will be treated separately.
Functional load algorithm: Select which of the two methods of calculation you want to use—i.e., minimal pairs or change in entropy. (See discussion above for details of each.)
Minimal pair options: If minimal pairs serve as the means of calculation, there are three additional parameters can be set.
Raw vs. relative count: First, PCT can report only the raw count of minimal pairs that hinge on the contrast in the corpus, if you just want to know the scope of the contrast. On the other hand, the default is to relativize the raw count to the corpus size, by dividing the raw number by the total number of words in the corpus. Note that this relativization will take into account the choice regarding homophones (e.g. if there are 18 words in the corpus, and 2 of them are homophones, the relativization will be by 18 if ‘distinguish homophones’ is selected, but will be by 17 if ‘do not distinguish homophones’ is selected). Still another possibility is to relativize by the number of lexical entries that include at least one instance of any of the target segments. Note that, similarly, this option interacts with the choice of ‘distinguish homophones’ vs. ‘do not distinguish homophones’: e.g. if there are 10 words that contain either sound X or sound Y (or both), and 2 of them are homophones, this relativization will be by 10 if ‘distinguish homophones’ is selected and by 9 if ‘do not distinguish homophones’ is selected. For discussion of these three options, see above.
Distinguish homophones: Second, PCT can either distinguish homophones or collapse them. For example, if the corpus includes separate entries for the words sock (n.), sock (v.), shock (n.), and shock (v.), this would count as four minimal pairs if homophones are distinguished, but only one if homophones are collapsed. The default is to collapse homophones.
Minimal pair types: ‘True minimal pairs’ are word pairs that differ in exact one segment in a specific position. For example, ‘sass’~’sad’ and ‘sad’~’dad’ would be included as true minimal pairs, but ‘sass’~’dad’ would not be included. ‘Minimal pairs by neutralization’ counts a word pair as a minimal pair if the neutralized pair is the same, where relevant segments (which might have multiple ones in a word) are neutralized. For example, ‘sass’~’sad’, ‘sad’~’dad’, and ‘sass’~’dad’ would all be included as minimal pairs by neutralization.
Output list of minimal pairs to a file: It is possible to save a list of all the actual minimal pairs that PCT finds that hinge on a particular chosen contrast to a .txt file. To do so, enter a file path name, or select “Choose file…” to use a regular system dialogue box. If nothing is entered here, no list will be saved, but the overall output will still be provided (and can be saved independently). Note that this list will always include ALL minimal pairs in the corpus, without collapsing homophones, regardless of whether the option to distinguish or collapse them above is chosen. E.g., it might include sock (n.) / shock (n.), sock (n.) / shock (v.), sock (v.) / shock (n.), and sock (v.) / shock (v.), even if this is counted as only one minimal pair in the calculation of the functional load.
Change in entropy options: If you are calculating functional load using change in entropy, one parameter can be set.
Normalize results: As described in Change in entropy, entropy can be calculated using just a difference in entropies, or by normalizing that difference by the entropy of the corpus before the merger. The default is to normalize; clicking “Do not normalize results” removes this normalization and returns just the difference in entropies.
Tier: Select which tier the functional load should be calculated from. The default is the “transcription” tier, i.e., looking at the entire word transcriptions. If another tier has been created (see Creating new tiers in the corpus), functional load can be calculated on the basis of that tier. For example, if a vowel tier has been created, then “minimal pairs” will be entries that are identical except for one entry in the vowels only, entirely independently of consonants. Thus, the words [mapotik] and [ʃɹaɡefli] would be treated as a minimal pair, given that their voweltier representations are [aoi] and [aei].
Pronunciation variants: If the corpus contains multiple pronunciation variants for lexical items, select what strategy should be used. For details, see Pronunciation Variants.
Type or token frequency: As described in Change in entropy, Delta H entropy can be calculated using either type or token frequencies. This option determines which to use. The default is to use token frequencies, as this is what [Surendran2003] do. Note that for minimal pairs, only type frequency is used.
Minimum frequency: It is possible to set a minimum token frequency for words in the corpus in order to be included in the calculation. This allows easy exclusion of rare words; for example, if one were calculating the functional load of [s] vs. [ʃ] in English and didn’t set a minimum frequency, words such as santy (vs. shanty) might be included, which might not be a particularly accurate reflection of the phonological knowledge of speakers. To include all words in the corpus, regardless of their token frequency, set the the minimum frequency to 0. Note that if a minimum frequency set, all words below that frequency are simply ignored entirely for the purposes of the entire calculation (e.g., they are not included in the total entropy of the corpus).
Environment: As described above, any of the possible functional load calculations can be done while limiting the segments to their occurrence in particular environments. Click on “New environment” to add an environment in which to calculate predictability of distribution. See Environment Selection for details on how to use this interface. Note that you will not be able to edit the “target” segments in this function, because the targets are automatically populated from the list of pairs selected on the lefthand side.
Here is an example of selecting [m] and [n], with functional load to be calculated on the basis of minimal pairs that hinge on this contrast only in wordinitial position, only including words with a token frequency of at least 1, from the builtin example corpus (which only has canonical forms). [Note that the environment selection is somewhat cut off in this screenshot, but that in PCT, one can scroll over to see it more clearly.]
Results: Once all parameters have been set, click one of the two “Calculate functional load” buttons. If this is the first calculation, the option to “start new results table” should be selected. For subsequent calculations, the calculation can be added to the already started table, for direct comparison, or a new table can be started.
Note that if a table is closed, new calculations will not be added to the previously open table; a new table must be started.
Either way, the results table will have the following columns, with one row per calculation: the corpus used, segment 1, segment2, which tier was used, what environment(s) were selected (if applicable), which measurement method was selected, the resulting functional load, what the minimum frequency was, what strategy was used for dealing with pronunciation variants, whether the result is relativized (normalized) or not, and for calculations using minimal pairs, whether homophones were ignored or not.
Saving results: Once a results table has been generated for at least one pair, the table can be saved by clicking on “Save to file” at the bottom of the table to open a system dialogue box and save the results at a userdesignated location.
(Note that in the above screen shot, not all columns are visible; they are visible only by scrolling over to the right, due to constraints on the window size. All columns would be saved to the results file.)
To return to the function dialogue box with your most recently used selections, click on “Reopen function dialog.” Otherwise, the results table can be closed and you will be returned to your corpus view.
Implementing the functional load function on the command line¶
In order to perform this analysis on the command line, you must enter a command in the following format into your Terminal:
pct_funcload CORPUSFILE [additional arguments]
…where CORPUSFILE is the name of your *.corpus file. If calculating
FL from a file of segment pairs, it must list the pairs
of segments whose functional load you wish to calculate with each pair
separated by a tab (\t
) and one pair on each line. Note that you must either
specify a file or segment (using p
) or request the functional loads of all
segment pairs in the inventory (using l
). You may also use
command line options to change various parameters of your functional
load calculations. Descriptions of these arguments can be viewed by
running pct_funcload –h
or pct_funcload help
. The help text from
this command is copied below, augmented with specifications of default values:
Positional arguments:
 corpus_file_name¶
Name of corpus file
Mandatory argument group (call must have one of these two):
 p PAIRS_FILE_NAME_OR_SEGMENT¶
 pairs_file_name_or_segment PAIRS_FILE_NAME_OR_SEGMENT¶
Name of file with segment pairs (or target segment if relative fl is True)
Optional arguments:
 s SEQUENCE_TYPE¶
 sequence_type SEQUENCE_TYPE¶
The attribute of Words to calculate FL over. Normally this will be the transcription, but it can also be the spelling or a userspecified tier.
 c CONTEXT_TYPE¶
 context_type CONTEXT_TYPE¶
How to deal with variable pronunciations. Options are ‘Canonical’, ‘MostFrequent’, ‘SeparatedTokens’, or ‘Weighted’. See documentation for details.
 a ALGORITHM¶
 algorithm ALGORITHM¶
Algorithm to use for calculating functional load: “minpair” for minimal pair count or “deltah” for change in entropy. Defaults to minpair.
 f FREQUENCY_CUTOFF¶
 frequency_cutoff FREQUENCY_CUTOFF¶
Minimum frequency of words to consider as possible minimal pairs or contributing to lexicon entropy.
 r True/False¶
 frequency_cutoff True/False¶
For minimal pair FL: whether or not to divide the number of minimal pairs by the number of possible minimal pairs (words with either segment in the proper environment). Defaults to True; pass ‘r False’ to set as False.
 d DISTINGUISH_HOMOPHONES¶
 distinguish_homophones DISTINGUISH_HOMOPHONES¶
For minimal pair FL: if False, then you’ll count sock~shock (sock=clothing) and sock~shock (sock=punch) as just one minimal pair; but if True, you’ll overcount alternative spellings of the same word, e.g. axel~actual and axle~actual. False is the value used by Wedel et al.
 t TYPE_OR_TOKEN¶
 type_or_token TYPE_OR_TOKEN¶
For change in entropy FL: specifies whether entropy is based on type or token frequency.
 e RELATIVE_FL¶
 relative_fl RELATIVE_FL¶
If True, calculate the relative FL of a single segment by averaging across the functional loads of it and all other segments.
 q ENVIRONMENT_LHS¶
 environment_lhs ENVIRONMENT_LHS¶
Left hand side of environment filter. Format: positions separated by commas, groups by slashes, e.g. m/n,i matches mi or ni.
 w ENVIRONMENT_RHS¶
 environment_rhs ENVIRONMENT_RHS¶
Right hand side of environment filter. Format: positions separated by commas, groups by slashes, e.g. m/n,i matches mi or ni. Use # for word edges.
EXAMPLE 1: If your corpus file is example.corpus (no prounciation variants)
and you want to calculate the minimal pair functional load of the segments
[m] and [n] using defaults for all optional arguments, you first need to
create a text file that contains the text m\tn
(where \t
is a tab).
Let us call this file pairs.txt. You would then run the
following command in your terminal window:
pct_funcload example.corpus p pairs.txt
EXAMPLE 2: Suppose you want to calculate the relative (average) functional load of the segment [m]. Your corpus file is again example.corpus. You want to use the change in entropy measure of functional load rather than the minimal pairs measure, and you also want to use type frequency instead of (the default value of) token frequency. In addition, you want the script to produce an output file called output.txt. You would need to run the following command:
pct_funcload example.corpus p m e a deltah t type o output.txt
EXAMPLE 3: Suppose you want to calculate the functional loads of all segment pairs. Your corpus file is again example.corpus. All other parameters are set to defaults. In addition, you want the script to produce an output file called output.txt. You would need to run the following command:
pct_funcload example.corpus l o output.txt
EXAMPLE 4: Suppose you want to calculate the minimal pair functional loads of these segment pairs _separately_: i/u, e/o, i/e, and u/o. Your corpus file this time is lemurian.corpus. Specifically, you want to calculate the functional load of these pairs when they occur at the right edge of a word immediately following a nasal (n, m, or N). You want only the raw minimal pair counts, not relative counts. All other parameters are set to defaults. You would need first to create a file (e.g. ‘pairs.txt’) containing the following text (no quotes): itunetonitenuto …where t is a tab and n is a newline (enter/return). You would then need to run the following command:
pct_funcload lemurian.corpus p pairs.txt q n/m/N w \# x r False
Classes and functions¶
For further details about the relevant classes and functions in PCT’s source code, please refer to Functional load.