Remi van Trijp

Human languages have evolved many fascinating solutions to complex communicative problems through the use of words and grammatical structures. And they keep on evolving: language is an open system, a unique ability that brings infinite variety to the ways in which we communicate with others about our experiences in life. How is this possible? Can we understand this linguistic creativity? In my research, I try to answer these questions by developing powerful cognitive language technologies, which can be used to study open-ended and robust language processing, to explore innovative linguistic applications, and to function in large open collaborative communities.

Computational Construction Grammar / Robust Language Processing / Language Evolution


Selected Publications

van Trijp, Remi (2017). A Computational Construction Grammar for English The AAAI 2017 Spring Symposium on Computational Construction Grammar and Natural Language Understanding Technical Report, no. SS-17-02, pp. 266-273. Stanford: AAAI.

van Trijp, Remi (2016). Chopping Down the Syntax Tree: What Construction Can Do Instead. Belgian Journal of Linguistics, 30:15-38.

van Trijp, Remi (2015). Cognitive vs. generative construction grammar: The case of coercion and argument structure. Cognitive Linguistics, 26(4):613-632.

van Trijp, Remi (2014). Long-Distance dependencies without filler-gaps: a cognitive-functional alternative in Fluid Construction Grammar. Language and Cognition, 6(2):242-270.

van Trijp, Remi (2013). Linguistic selection criteria for explaining language change: a case study on syncretism in German definite articles. Language Dynamics and Change, 3(1):105-132.

van Trijp, Remi (2012). The evolution of case systems for marking event structure. In: Steels, Luc (ed.), Experiments in Cultural Language Evolution (pp. 169-205). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

van Trijp, Remi and Steels, Luc (2012). Multilevel alignment maintains language systematicity. Advances in Complex Systems 15(3-4).


I must have been sixteen when I first read The Language Instinct, a marvelous book by Steven Pinker on how language works, how it is computed in the brain, and how it has evolved. I was immediately hooked to the question about the evolution of language, and more than sixteen years later, I found myself respectfully disagreeing with many of the things that Pinker has written. Moreover, I discovered that tackling one of science's oldest problems may have direct benefits for computer science, AI and linguistics. I enrolled myself at the University of Antwerp in 1998 to study linguistics, and soon realized that my questions about language could not be answered by traditional methodologies. So I majored in computational linguistics, where I became fascinated with new computational models and agent-based approaches for studying language evolution, which I then used for my Master's thesis. At the same time, I have also always been passionate about writing and education, so I took extracurricular writing courses and obtained my teacher's degree. Those three passions - language, writing and education - have been the running threads in my professional life ever since. After my studies, I spent two years working first as a journalist and then as a teacher. I was then offered the opportunity to pick up my research on language evolution at the Sony Computer Science Laboratory in Paris in 2005 in the context of the European FP6 ECAgents Project. At Sony CSL, I became one of the chief developers of Fluid Construction Grammar, an open source grammar formalism for open-ended deep language processing. I then co-authored the proposal for the European FP7 ALEAR project, for which I was hired in 2008 at the VUB Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in Brussels. After obtaining my PhD from the University of Antwerp in that same year, I was hired as Researcher at Sony CSL Paris, where I am currently leading the language research.

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