Staff Member Projects

Construction grammar and evolutionary linguistics

Arie Verhagen

Verhagen project3 Evolution 3TimeScalesAccording to the constructional approach to grammar, lexical items and grammatical constructions are entities of the same kind: conventional pairings of form and meaning.

The approach is used to solve a number of problems in syntax, while the theoretical investigation of constructional analyses in turn results in modifications of the theory. One important point is that constructions are units of information being replicated in language use, and thus amenable to an analysis in terms of Darwin's algorithm (for the interaction between variation, selection, and replication). This part of the project aims to develop a comprehensive conceptual framework for the study of both linguistic usage and linguistic systems, as instantiations of cultural evolutionary phenomena. It also has implications for the issue of the biological evolution of language (i.e. of conventional, symbolic behavior).