Towards a multilingual constructicon: issues, approaches, perspectives

Towards a multilingual constructicon: issues, approaches, perspectives

December 4-6, 2019
Düsseldorf, Haus der Universität
*Please note that the Haus der Universität is not located on the campus but in the city (Schadowplatz, 14) as depicted in the location map below!
Supported by GFFU
The conference offers a forum in which internationally leading linguists in the field of construction grammar / language technology come together in order to break new ground in creating a digital language resource in the form of a FrameNet and Constructicon, both on a monolingual and a multilingual basis. Empirically, the overall aim is to systematically capture both grammar and lexicon on a par as rich resources of meaningful concepts (“frames”, “constructions”) and to document and compare them across languages. With a special focus on multilingual issues, the conference brings together researchers who are currently involved in developing repositories of grammatical constructions and frames in order to explore and refine the design of a multilingual resource in methodological, application-related and computational terms. It is hosted by the German FrameNet & Constructicon project (, located at the University of Duesseldorf.

Organizers: Prof. Dr. Alexander Ziem, Dr. des. Sascha Michel, Ann-Katrin Nöhren, M.Ed., Alexander Willich, M.A.


The conference takes account of the fact that the development of construction-based linguistic repositories (“constructicon”) has grown steadily in recent years. Inspired by the pilot project led by Charles Fillmore (Fillmore et al. 2012), research groups began to build up similar resources, for example for Swedish (Skölberg et al. 2013), Brazilian-Portuguese (Laviola et al. 2018), Japanese (Ohara 2013), Russian (Janda et al. 2018) and German (Ziem & Boas 2017). The common starting point of all projects is that especially analyses of semi-idiomatic units located between lexicon and grammar have been inadequate so far. One reason for this shortcoming is the fact that many constructions behave "irregularly" because their slots are subject to locally defined conditions, in particular constraints which define for each construction which semantic, pragmatic or formal requirements slot-fillers must meet. Notwithstanding that each construction must be individually recorded and described, also constructions with unpredictable characteristics belong to the language system just like fully regular expressions and grammatical structures. Their enormous variety raises doubts as to whether it is justified to conceive them as “peripheral” and thus neglectable linguistic phenomena. The number of constructional idioms encompasses a multitude of semi-idiomatic constructions that are difficult to survey, including grammatical phrasemes (let alone, for the sake of) and other phraseological templates (like {page} to {page}, what for {a day}, {a man} of {format}; cf. Ziem 2018) as well as support verb constructions (make an inquiry, make an assertion, etc.) and other units such as headless constructions (e.g. headless relative constructions such as What annoys me are such sentences), prepositional phrases with bare nouns (in worry, with patience).


By focusing on identifying, analyzing and representing grammatical constructions in monolingual and multilingual constructica, the conference specifically addresses the following issues.
  • How is it possible to identify and uniformly describe constructions in such a way that they can be aligned and interconnected across languages?
  • To what extent do idiomatic constructions enjoy a special status during annotation, analysis and representation in the construction?
  • How comprehensive and detailed should (semantic) annotations of constructions be?
  • To what extent can frame semantic data be used for the semantic description of constructions? Is FrameNet generally suitable as a resource for identifying constructions?
  • What possibilities, but also risks, result from the integration of parsers into the analysis process (especially at the level of phrase structure and grammatical function)?
  • To what extent should differences (regarding, for instance, constraints and productivity) between constructions in different languages be taken into account?
  • How is it possible to link constructica as closely as possible with existing resources (DWDS, Pattern Bank, EVALBU etc.)? What is the benefit of such interconnections?
  • To what extent may constructica help to improve foreign language teaching and learning?
  • Can existing resources (especially annotated data) be used to develop or improve semantic parsers?
  • Where are the limits of a constructicographic approach to grammatical constructions?


Boas, Hans C., Ivan Sag (eds.). 2012. Sign-Based Construction Grammar. Stanford: CSLI Publications.

Fillmore, Charles J., Kay, Paul & Mary C. O’Connor. 1988. Regularity and idiomaticity in grammatical constructions: The case of ‘let alone.’ Language 64: 501–538.

Fillmore, Charles J.; Lee-Goldman, Russell R & Rhodes, Russell. 2012. The FrameNet Constructicon. In Hans C. Boas, Ivan A. Sag (eds.), Sign-based Construction Grammar Stanford: CSLI Publications. 283–299

Goldberg, Adele. 1995. Constructions: A Construction Grammar approach to argument structure. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Janda, L., Lyashevskaya, O., Nesset, T., Rakhilina, E. & Tyers, F.M. 2018. A constructicon for Russian: Filling in the gaps. In: Lyngfelt, B. et al. (eds.): Constructicography: Constructicon development across languages. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins.

Jurafsky, D. 1992. An On-Line Computational Model of Human Sentence Interpretation. In AAAI-92 Proceedings, 302–308.

Kay, P. & Fillmore, C.J. 1999. Grammatical constructions and linguistic generalizations: The ‘What’s X doing Y?‘ Construction. Language, 75, 1–33.

Lakoff, G. 1987. Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things. Chicago: University Press of Chicago.

Langacker, R. W. 2008. Cognitive Grammar. A Basic Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Laviola, Adrieli et al. 2017. The Brazilian Portuguese Constructicon: Modeling Constructional Inheritance, Frame Evocation and Constraints in FrameNet Brasil. In Proceedings of the AAAI 2017 Spring Symposium on Computational Construction Grammar and Natural Language Understanding Palo Alto: AAAI Publications. 193–196.

Lyngfelt, Benjamin, et al. (eds.). 2018. Constructicography: Constructicon development across languages. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins.

Ohara, K. H. 2013. Toward Constructicon Building for Japanese in Japanese FrameNet. Veredas 17/1. 11–28.

Sköldberg, E. et al. 2013. Between Grammars and Dictionaries: a Swedish Constructicon. In Kosem, I. et al. (eds.), Electronic lexicography in the 21st century: thinking outside the paper Ljubiljana and Tallinn: Troijna, Institute for Applied Slovene Studies und Eesti Keele Instituut. 310–327.

Ziem, A. 2018. Tag für Tag Arbeit über Arbeit: konstruktionsgrammatische Zugänge zu Phraseoschablonen mit nominaler Reduplikation. In Steyer, K. (ed.), Sprachliche Verfestigung. Wortverbindungen, Muster, Phrasem-Konstruktionen Tübingen: Narr.

Ziem, A. & Boas, H. C. 2017. Towards a Constructicon for German. In: Proceedings of the AAAI 2017 Spring Symposium on Computational Construction Grammar and Natural Language Understanding. Technical Report SS-17-02, Stanford University, 274-277.

Ziem, Alexander/Flick, Johanna. In press. Constructicography at work: implementation and application of the German Constructicon. In: Yearbook of the German Cognitive Linguistics Association.

The conference is co-financed by GFFU. We would like to cordially thank the GFFU for their generous support!
Wednesday, December 4, 2019
9.00 Alexander Ziem (Düsseldorf) Between digitalization and language science: How can meanings of words and grammatical constructions be prepared in digital form for the broad public?
9.30 Tiago Torrent (Juiz de Fora, Brasilien) & Ely Matos (Juiz de Fora) Implementation of the Brazilian-Portugese constructicon
10.15 Hans C. Boas (Austin, Texas, USA) How to find relatives of families of constructions
11.00 Coffee break
11.30 Josef Ruppenhofer (IDS, Mannheim) & Thomas Schmidt (IDS, Mannheim) Annotating frames/constructions on spontaneous spoken language data
12.15 Alexander Lasch (Dresden) Semantic annotation of idiomatic constructions
13.00 Lunch break
14.30 Florent Perek (Birmingham, UK) Constructional meaning in the English Constructicon
15.15 Kyoko Hirose Ohara (Tokio, Japan) Frames-and-constructions analysis of Japanese-English bilingual children’s books
16.00 Coffee break
16.30 Sebastian Pado (Stuttgart) Exemplars and prototypes: frame assignment as categorization
17.15 Miriam R. L. Petruck (Berkeley) t.b.a
18.00 Alexander Geyken (Berlin, DWDS) Representation of multi-word lexemes in a large monolingual dictionary: the case of DWDS
Thursday, December 5, 2019
9.00 Olga Lyashevskaya (Moskau) t.b.a.
9.45 Kathrin Steyer (IDS, Mannheim) Multiword patterns and networks. Lexical entrenchment from a corpus-driven point of view
10.30 Coffee break
11.00 Alexander Ziem, Ann-Katrin Nöhren, Sascha Michel & Alexander Willich (Düsseldorf) Scaling up the German Constructicon
11.45 Kristel Proost & Stefan Engelberg (IDS, Mannheim) t.b.a.
12.40 Lunch break
14.30 Thomas Herbst t.b.a.
15.15 Rita Finkbeiner t.b.a.
16.00 Open discussion round
18.30 Conference dinner
Friday, December 6, 2019
9.00 Fabio Mollica (Mailand) Inheritance and other relations in the family of German Ethicus constructions
9.45 Carmen Mellado Blanco (Santiago de Compostela) Intensifying Constructions in German and Spanish: The Case of Idiomatic Resultative Constructions and their Equivalents in Spanish
10.30 Benjamin Lyngfelt (Göteburg, Schweden) Prospects for multilingual constructicography
11.15 Coffee break
11.45 Discussion round: Towards the development of a multilingual constructicon
13.00 Joint lunch (optional)