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Centre for Computational Linguistics, Psycholinguistics and Sociolinguistics (CLiPS)

Research group

Main organisation:Department of Linguistics
Lifecycle:1 Oct 2003 →  Today
Organisation profile:The research of CLiPS is interdisciplinary between linguistics, psychology, and computer science (Artificial Intelligence). Current research can be divided into three main areas: Psycholinguistics, Language Acquisition (coordinator: Steven Gillis). The main research topic is how very young children learn the language they hear. This process actually starts before babies use conventional words and phrases. That is why we study babies' vocalizations from birth onwards, focusing on how they become more and more 'word-like'. Once they start using words, we analyze the phonological development (the sound and syllable patterns words consist of, stress and intonation, 'speech errors') and morphophonological development (for instance, how do they learn diminutives or plurals?), and syntactic development (e.g., how do they learn the basic word order of Dutch?). Moreover, we study how young children learn the meanings of words and how they know how to use these new words correctly. A major area of research in language acquisition is the extent to which the language environment of the child provides enough information with which to learn language. At present we have an outspoken interest in language acquisition in children with different degrees of hearing: normally hearing children's language acquisition is compared with hearing impaired children with a conventional hearing aid and deaf children with 'received hearing' due to cochlear implantation. The research mainly focuses on the acquisition of Dutch as a first language. But there is also a firm emphasis on crosslinguistic studies in which the acquisition of particular phenomena is studied in typologically diverse languages. Psycholinguistics, Language Processing (coordinator: Dominiek Sandra). The focus is on the nature of the mental representations and processes underpinning online language use in experienced language users, more particularly in the domains of reading and spelling. In the study of reading our attention is primarily directed towards visual word recognition. The issues that we have addressed in recent years concern the role of morphological structure in lexical access and the question whether lexical access in bilinguals is language-selective or not. These topics are studied in reaction time experiments, using a variety of experimental paradigms. In our study of the spelling process we attempt to explain why descriptively simple, rule-governed word forms (Dutch verb forms) give rise to so many spelling errors among experienced spellers. Experiments and error corpora form two sources of empirical data. The central explanatory concepts in this research line are occurrence frequency of orthographic patterns at the lexical level and analogical processing at the sublexical level. Finally, we study the possibility of explaining language processing in morphosyntactic and syntactic domains in terms of exemplar-based analogy instead of rule application. Here, we rely on experimental and modeling work. Computational Linguistics (coordinator: Walter Daelemans). Basic research in Computational Linguistics at CLiPS is concerned with the study of computational methods for the representation, acquisition, and use of language knowledge. We focus on the application of statistical and machine learning methods, trained on corpus data, to explain human language acquisition and processing data, and to develop automatic text understanding systems that are accurate, efficient, and robust enough to be used in practical applications. We develop specific machine learning algorithms suited for the properties of language data (few regularities, many irregularities and exceptions), and develop new methodologies for simulation of these language data. Our strategic research is in the domain of Language Technology, the development of language processing tools to alleviate information and translation bottlenecks. Research focus here has been on text analytics (extracting knowledge from unstructured text data). Recently, the group has developed research initiatives on language technology for African languages, and on Digital Humanities (especially the areas of computational stylometry and language technology for the study of old variants of Dutch).
Disciplines:Artificial intelligence, Cognitive science and intelligent systems, Linguistics, Theory and methodology of linguistics