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Fluid construction grammar as a biological system

  • Luc Steels EMAIL logo and Eörs Szathmáry
From the journal Linguistics Vanguard


Mapping insights and frameworks from one scientific domain to another is often useful because it encourages communication between different scientific fields and acts as a conduit for the exchange of mathematical and computational tools. This paper introduces analogies between concepts and mechanisms from molecular biology and language processing. The main purpose is to find ways for understanding language as a ‘living’, dynamically evolving, self-organizing system. The analogies have been the main source of inspiration for a computational implementation of construction grammar, called Fluid Construction Grammar (FCG). The paper describes briefly the biological analogies underlying FCG and discusses the opportunities for further research that these analogies open up.


LS gratefully acknowledges funding from ICREA at the Institut de Biologia Evolutiva (UPF/CSIC) in Barcelona, from the FP7 EU Project Insight (agreement no. 308943), the Marie Curie Integration Grant EVOLAN, and the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin. ES acknowledges support from the FP7 EU Project Insight (agreement no. 308943) and by the European Research Council project EvoEvo (grant agreement no. 294332). The development of FCG is a team effort to which dozens of researchers from the Sony Computer Science Laboratory in Paris and the VUB Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in Brussels have contributed greatly. Comments from Emilia Garcia Casademont, Holger Diessel and Paul van Eecke helped to improve the present paper.


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Received: 2015-11-13
Accepted: 2015-12-14
Published Online: 2016-3-18
Published in Print: 2016-12-1

© 2016 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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