Evolutionary Grammar

Atelier run by Remi van Trijp and Paul Van Eecke

The question of the origins and evolution of human language is one of the most fascinating mysteries in science, but also one of the hardest problems due to a lack of data and fossil records of the first languages. Nevertheless, recent methodological and technological breakthroughs have made it possible to come up with solid scientific theorizing, making Evolutionary Linguistics a young but thriving field of inquiry. This atelier introduces its participants to these methods, including a hands-on experience on how to construct multi-agent models for exploring the emergence of vocabularies from scratch and a concrete demonstration of state-of-the-art experiments on the evolution of grammar. Participants will familiarize themselves with Babel2, an open-source software framework for developing agent-based models that includes the grammar formalism Fluid Construction Grammar, and they will learn which set of skills they need to acquire or bring to the table for conducting cutting edge experiments on language evolution.


Summary of the Program

Date Topic
5/09 Pidgin Speech Community Tutorial on Lisp and more details on Babel2
6/09 Emergent Vocabularies and Usage-Based Language Processing
7/09 Argument Structure Constructions
8/09 Emergent Grammars for Argument Structure
9/09 Wrap up: Accomplishments and Challenges Demonstration of Results

Detailed Program


Background Materials



Participants are asked to their own laptops with Babel2 installed. A basic knowledge of (symbolic) computing is required for participating in the hands-on parts of the ateliers.


Practical Details

This atelier is part of the Summer School on Creativity and Evolution, running from Monday 5 to Friday 9 September at Lake Como (Italy). Every day consists of two atelier sessions. The morning sessions consist of a series of lectures on selected topics that directly feed into the practical exercises taking place in the afternoon. Participants will collaborate on a research project that will be presented to all members of the Summer School in a live demonstration session on Friday afternoon.

Registration: Apply through the main website of the Summer School.

More information: Remi van Trijp ( remi@csl.sony.fr)


About the Atelier Instructors

Remi van Trijp Dr Remi van Trijp is the head of the language research unit at Sony Computer Science Laboratory Paris and one of the chief architects of Fluid Construction Grammar. He has pioneered the first constructional processing model for argument structure that works for both language comprehension and formulation, and has developed state-of-the-art agent-based language models for the emergence of grammar. In his latest work, he has focused on how robust models of constructional language processing can be applied for broad-coverage grammars.

Paul Van Eecke Paul Van Eecke is a member of the language research unit at Sony Computer Science Laboratory Paris. He has been participating in the development of Fluid Construction Grammar since 2014. His main research topics include (1) algorithms that make constructional language processing more robust and flexible and (2) algorithms that learn more abstract constructions from concrete observations.