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Constructions Emerging: A Usage-Based Model of The Acquisition of Grammar

This dissertation is concerned with the development of grammar. Starting from a usage-based perspective, which holds that children use domain-general learning mechanisms to acquire the grammatical patterns of their mother tongue, Beekhuizen shows how to operationalize various concepts from this tradition in a computational model.

Barend Beekhuizen
22 September 2015
Full text in Leiden University Repository

In order to arrive at a sound set of assumptions, Beekhuizen compares and criticizes various earlier usage-based modeling approaches and scrutinizes the concepts of a usage-based theory of language acquisition from the perspective of a computational modeler. As the model should be able to produce utterances on the basis of a meaning to be expressed, as well as to interpret utterances, the availability of meaning from the situational context is studied empirically.

The resulting model, the Syntagmatic-Paradigmatic Learner, simulates an increasing ability to understand utterances on the basis of a grammar of constructions, as well as to produce utterances on the basis of this grammar. Several developmental effects are simulated and the internal states of the model are carefully examined.


  • Prof.dr. Arie Verhagen
  • Prof.dr. Rens Bod


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