Remi Van Trijp

Computational Construction Grammar  

Constructional approaches to grammar have recently achieved important breakthroughs in many, often empirically oriented subdisciplines of linguistics, including corpus linguistics, historical linguistics, sociolinguistics and language acquisition studies. These breakthroughs have also attracted the interest of computational linguists, who find in Construction Grammar new ideas that might lead to superior language technologies. This presentation gives an overview of the enormous challenges involved in the implementation of CxG,  and shows how those challenges can be addressed by reconfiguring existing techniques (e.g. unification and feature structures) and technical innovations. The presentation demonstrates such solutions through Fluid Construction Grammar (FCG,, a full-fledged computational framework that integrates bidirectional language processing, acquisition and invention.   
Linguistic Assessment Criteria for Explaining Language Change  
The German definite article paradigm, which is notoriousfor its case syncretism, is widely considered to be the accidental by-product of diachronic changes. In this presentation, I argue instead that the evolution of the paradigm has been motivated by the needs and constraints of language usage. This hypothesis is supported by experiments that compare the current paradigm to its Old High German ancestor (OHG; 900–1100ad) in terms of linguistic assessment criteria such as cue reliability, processing efficiency and ease of articulation. Such a comparison has been made possible by “bringing back alive” the OHG system through a computational reconstruction in the form of a processing model.The experiments demonstrate that syncretism has made the New High German system more efficient for processing, pronunciation and perception than its historical predecessor, without harming the language’s strength at disambiguating utterances.