The minimization of the length of syntactic dependencies is a well-stablished principle of word order and the basis of a mathematical theory of word order. Here we complete that theory from the perspective of information theory, adding a competing word order principle: the maximization of predictability of a target element. These two principles are in conflict: to maximize the predictability of the head, the head should appear last, which maximizes the costs with respect to dependency length minimization. The implications of such a broad theoretical framework to understand the optimality, diversity and evolution of the six possible orderings of subject, object and verb are reviewed.
The placement of the head that maximizes predictability. An information theoretic approach