Corominas-Murtra, Bernat; Marti Sanchez Fibla; Sergi Valverde; and Richard Sole

The emergence of syntax during childhood is a remarkable example of how complex correlations unfold in nonlinear ways through development. In particular, rapid transitions seem to occur as children reach the age of two, which seems to separate a two-word, tree-like network of syntactic relations among words from the scale-free graphs associated with the adult, complex grammar. Here, we explore the evolution of syntax networks through language acquisition using the chromatic number, which captures the transition and provides a natural link to standard theories on syntactic structures. The data analysis is compared to a null model of network growth dynamics which is shown to display non-trivial and sensible differences. At a more general level, we observe that the chromatic classes define independent regions of the graph, and thus, can be interpreted as the footprints of incompatibility relations, somewhat as opposed to modularity considerations.