Computational Construction Grammar and Constructional Change


8 June 2015


Vrije Universiteit Brussel


After several decades in scientific purgatory, language evolution has reclaimed its place as one of the most important branches in linguistics, and it is increasingly recognized as one of the most crucial sources of evidence for understanding human cognition. This renewed interest is accompanied by exciting breakthroughs in the science of language. Historical linguists can now couple their expertise to powerful methods for retrieving and documenting which changes have taken place. At the same time, construction grammar is increasingly being embraced in all areas of linguistics as a fruitful way of making sense of all these empirical observations. Construction grammar has also enthused formal and computational linguists, who have developed sophisticated tools for exploring issues in language processing and learning, and how new forms of grammar may emerge in speech populations.


Separately, linguists and computational linguists can therefore explain which changes take place in language and how these changes are possible. When working together, however, they can also address the question of why language evolves over time and how it emerged in the first place. This conference therefore brings together top researchers from both fields to put evidence and methods from both perspectives on the table, and to take up the challenge of uniting these efforts.


Conference Opening (Remi van Trijp, Katrien Beuls and Timothy Colleman)
Modeling the cognitive and social mechanisms behind constructionalization and constructional change using Fluid Construction Grammar, Luc Steels (VUB, IBE Barcelona) (Abstract)
Coffee break
Constructions, minds, and communities: multi-level micro-changes in the constructional grammaticalization of "be going to", Peter Petré (University of Lille) (Abstract)
Rethinking it- and there-clefts, Kristin Davidse (University of Leuven) (Abstract)
Lunch break and poster session
ELA Lifetime Achievement Award Ceremony
Change in language and music: a constructional outline, Graeme Trousdale (University of Edinburgh) (Abstract)
Darwin, Tinbergen, and the ideal language user, Arie Verhagen (University of Leiden) (Abstract)
Coffee break
Closing panel discussion

Poster session

We accept contributions for the poster session until 1 June 2015 (29 May 2015). You can send a 500 word abstract to if you want to present your work. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out on 3 June 2015. Poster presentations can also be selected as contributions for a special issue of the Belgian Journal of Linguistics (Summer 2016).

Tutorial on Fluid Construction Grammar

Apart from the main conference, there is also a Tutorial on Fluid Construction Grammar. The tutorial will take place on the 7th and 9th of June, i.e. the day before and after the main conference, in the Artificial Intelligence Lab (Building G, 10th floor). The tutorial will be modular, so there is no problem in attending only one of the two days. During the tutorial, you will learn to write your own fully operational grammars in Fluid Construction Grammar. The tutorial is practically oriented and mainly consists of hands-on exercices. Participation in the FCG tutorial is free!

7 June
9 June
Luc Steels
Argument structure
Remi van Trijp
Coffee break
Coffee break
Remi van Trijp
Katrien Beuls
Lexical constructions
Miquel Cornudella
Search and linguistic processing
Remi van Trijp
Coffee break
Coffee break
Phrasal constructions
Paul van Eecke
Closing discussion
Background Reading
Steels, Luc (in preparation). Basics of Fluid Construction Grammar. Link


Attending the annual BKL-CBL conference is free. You can register here.



Building D, room D.2.01 (Promotiezaal)
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussels


For more information, please contact the conference convenors.
Remi van Trijp, Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Paris
Katrien Beuls, Vrije Universiteit Brussel


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