Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton March 18, 2016

Fluid construction grammar as a biological system

Luc Steels and Eörs Szathmáry
From the journal Linguistics Vanguard

Abstract

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.

Acknowledgement

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.

References

Baronchelli, A., M. Felici, V. Loreto, E. Caglioti & L. Steels. 2006. Sharp transition towards shared vocabularies in multi-agent systems. Journal of Statistical Mechanics 06014.10.1088/1742-5468/2006/06/P06014Search in Google Scholar

Barres, V. & J. Lee. 2013. Template construction grammar: From visual scene description to language comprehension and a grammatism. Neuroinformatics 12(1). 181–208.10.1007/s12021-013-9197-ySearch in Google Scholar

Bergen, B. K. & N. C. Chang. 2003. Embodied construction grammar in simulation-based language understanding. In J. O. Ostman & M. Fried (eds.), Construction grammar(s): Cognitive and cross-language dimensions. Amsterdam: John Benjamin Publ Co.Search in Google Scholar

Beuls, K. 2011. Construction sets and unmarked forms: A case study for Hungarian verb agreement. In L. Steels (eds.), Design patterns in fluid construction grammar. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publ. Co.10.1075/cal.11.13beuSearch in Google Scholar

Bryant, J. 2008. Best-fit constructional analysis, Ph.D. Dissertation. Berkeley, CA: Computer Science Department.Search in Google Scholar

Bybee, J. 2010. Language, usage, and cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511750526Search in Google Scholar

Croft, W. 2000. Explaining language change. An evolutionary approach. Harlow: Pearson Education.Search in Google Scholar

Croft, W. 2001. Radical construction grammar. Syntactic theory in typological perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198299554.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Dawkins, R. 1982. Replicators and vehicles. In R. Brandon & R. Burian (eds.), Genes, organisms, populations, 161–180. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Search in Google Scholar

Diessel, H. 2015. Usage-based construction grammar. In E. Dabrowska & D. Divjak (eds.), Handbook of cognitive linguistics. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.10.1515/9783110292022-015Search in Google Scholar

Fillmore, C. 1988. The mechanisms of construction grammar. In Proceedings of the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, Berkeley Linguistics Society, Berkeley, CA, 35–55.10.3765/bls.v14i0.1794Search in Google Scholar

Garcia-Casademont, E. & L. Steels. 2015. Usage-based grammar learning as insight problem solving, 258–263. CEUR, AACMEN: European-Asia-Pacific Cognitive Science Conference.Search in Google Scholar

Givón, T. 2002. Bio-linguistics. The Santa Barbara lectures. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.10.1075/z.113Search in Google Scholar

Goldberg, A. 1995. Constructions: A construction grammar approach to argument structure. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Search in Google Scholar

Goldberg, A. 2003. Constructions: A new theoretical approach to language. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 7(5). 219–224.10.1016/S1364-6613(03)00080-9Search in Google Scholar

Goldberg, A. & R. Jackendoff. 2004. The English resultative as a family of constructions. Language 80. 532–568.10.1353/lan.2004.0129Search in Google Scholar

Hockett, C. 1958. A course in modern linguistics. Toronto: Macmillian.10.1111/j.1467-1770.1958.tb00870.xSearch in Google Scholar

Jaeger, G., T. Gong, L. Shuai & M. Tamariz. 2012. Studying language change using Price equation and Polya-urn dynamics. PLoS ONE 7. 3.10.1371/journal.pone.0033171Search in Google Scholar

Jurafsky, D. & J. H. Martin. 2008. Speech and language processing: An introduction to natural language processing, computational linguistics and speech recognition, 2nd edn. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.Search in Google Scholar

Wei-Chun Kao, Y-R. Chen, E. Yi, H. Lee, Q. Tian, K. Ming Wu, S. Feng Tsai, Steve, S-F. Yu, Yu-Ju. Chen, Ruedi, A & S. I. Chan. 2004. Quantitative proteomic analysis of metabolic regulation by copper ions in Methylococcus capsulatus (Bath). The Journal of Biological Chemistry 279. 51554–51560.10.1074/jbc.M408013200Search in Google Scholar

Kirby, S., H. Cornish & K Smith. 2008. Cumulative cultural evolution in the laboratory: An experimental approach to the origins of structure in human language. PNAS 105(31). 10681–10686.10.1073/pnas.0707835105Search in Google Scholar

Knight, K. 1989. Unification: A multidisciplinary survey. ACM Computing Surveys 21(1). 93–124.10.1145/62029.62030Search in Google Scholar

Levelt, W. J. M. 1983. Monitoring and self-repair in speech. Cognition 14. 41–104.10.1016/0010-0277(83)90026-4Search in Google Scholar

Maynard Smith, J. 1986. The problems of biology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Michaelis, L. 2013. Sign-based construction grammar. In T. Hoffman & G. Trousdale (eds.), The Oxford handbook of construction grammar, 133–152. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195396683.013.0008Search in Google Scholar

Mufwene, S. 2001. Competition and selection in language evolution. Selection 3. 1.10.5040/9781350934078.ch-007Search in Google Scholar

Pigliucci, M. & G. Mueller. 2010. Evolution. The extended synthesis. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.10.7551/mitpress/9780262513678.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Sag, I., T. Wasow & E. Bender. 2003. Syntactic theory: A formal introduction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Search in Google Scholar

Schleicher, A. 1863. Die Darwinsche Theorie und die Sprachwissenschaft. Weimar: H. Boehlau.Search in Google Scholar

Steels, L. (ed.). 2011a. Design patterns in fluid construction grammar. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.10.1075/cal.11Search in Google Scholar

Steels, L. (ed.). 2012a. Experiments in cultural language evolution. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.10.1075/ais.3Search in Google Scholar

Steels, L. (ed.). 2012b. Computational issues in fluid construction grammar (LNAI 7249). Berlin: Springer-Verlag.10.1007/978-3-642-34120-5_1Search in Google Scholar

Steels, L. 2013. Fluid construction grammar. In T. Hoffmann & G. Trousdale (eds.), Handbook of construction grammar, chapter 9, 153–167. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195396683.013.0009Search in Google Scholar

Steels, L. 2016. Basics of fluid construction grammar. Constructions and frames, in press.10.1075/cf.9.2Search in Google Scholar

Steels, L. & J. De Beule. 2006. Unify and merge in fluid construction grammar. In P. Vogt, Y. Sugita, E. Tuci & C. Nehaniv (eds.), Symbol grounding and beyond: Proceedings of the Third international workshop on the emergence and evolution of linguistic communication, LNAI 4211, 197–223. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.10.1007/11880172_16Search in Google Scholar

Steels, L. & E. Garcia Casademont. 2015. Ambiguity and the origins of syntax. The Linguistic Review 32(1). 37–60.10.1515/tlr-2014-0021Search in Google Scholar

Van Petten, C. & B. Luka. 2011. Prediction during language comprehension: Benefits, costs, and ERP components. International Journal of Psychophysiology 83(2). 176–190.10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2011.09.015Search in Google Scholar

van Trijp, Remi & Luc Steels. 2012. Multilevel alignment maintains language systematicity. Advances in Complex Systems 15(3/4). 39–1, 39–27.10.1142/S0219525912500397Search in Google Scholar

De Vylder, B. & K. Tuyls. 2006. How to reach linguistic consensus: A proof of convergence for the naming game. Journal of Theoretical Biology 242(4). 818–831.10.1016/j.jtbi.2006.05.024Search in Google Scholar

Wagner, A. 2005. Robustness and evolvability in living systems. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Wellens, P. & J. De Beule. 2010. Priming through constructional dependencies a case study in fluid construction grammar. In Andrew D. M. Smith, Marieke Schouwstra, Bart de Boer & Kenny Smith (eds.), Proceedings of the 8th international conference on the evolution of language, 344–351. Singapore: World Scientific.10.1142/9789814295222_0044Search in Google Scholar

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