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Description

If speakers use language rationally, they should structure their messages to achieve approximately uniform information density (UID), in order to optimize transmission via a noisy channel. Previous work identified a consistent increase in linguistic information across sentences in text as a signature of the UID hypothesis. This increase was derived from a predicted increase in context, but the context itself was not quantified. We use microblog texts from Twitter, tied to a single shared event (the baseball World Series), to quantify both linguistic and non-linguistic context. By tracking changes in contextual information, we predict and identify gradual and rapid changes in information content in response to in-game events. These findings lend further support to the UID hypothesis and highlights the importance of non-linguistic common ground for language production and processing.

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