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!
Book of Abstracts (Last updated: 2019-11-18)
Wednesday, December 4, 2019
9.00 Alexander Ziem (Düsseldorf) Introduction: Between digitalization and language science - challenges for building a mono- and multlingual constructicon
I. Building a mono- and multilingual contructicon: challenges & issues
9.30 Hans C. Boas (Austin, Texas) How to find relatives of families of constructions Abstract
10.15 Coffee break
10.45 Olga Lyashevskaya, Katya Rakhilina (Moscow) Russian Constructicon: clusters, families, and usage scenarios Abstract
11.30 Benjamin Lyngfelt (Gothenborg) Frames, Comparative Concepts and what else? Linking devices in a conceptual infrastructure for multilingual constructicography Abstract
12.15 Lunch break
13.30 Holger Dießel (Jena) Construction families and grammatical categories in the constructicon Abstract
14.15 Tiago Torrent, Ely Matos (Juiz de Fora) Connecting Constructicons: a Flexible Infrastructure for Constructional Alignment Abstract
15.00 Coffee break
15.30 Jean-Pierre Colson (Louvain) Automatic extraction of constructions and statistical associations in the constructicon: an exploratory methodology Abstract
16.15 Discussion round: What should the architecture of a construction look like?
17.00 Preparing for conference dinner
19.00 Conference Dinner
Thursday, December 5, 2019
II. Representing and exploring meaning in a (mono-/multilingual) constructicon: lexicographic & frame-based perspectives
9.00 Florent Perek (Birmingham) Frames and constructional meaning in the English Constructicon Abstract
9.45 Kathrin Steyer (Mannheim) Preposition-Noun combinations as minimal phraseological units. A pattern-based view on PNs and new forms of lexicographic representation Abstract
10.30 Coffee break
11.00 Michael Roth (Stuttgart) Exploring frames across English, German, and French with multilingual embeddings Abstract
11.45 Oliver Czulo (Leizpig), Tiago T. Torrent (Juiz de Fora), Ely E. da Silva Matos, Alexandre Diniz da Costa (Juiz de Fora), Debanjana Kar (Kharagpur) FSEM: A Frame-Semantic Machine TranslationEvaluation Metric Abstract
12.30 Lunch break
13.45 Alexander Geyken (Berlin) Representation of multi-word lexemes in a large monolingual dictionary: the case of DWDS Abstract
14.30 Discussion round: How should meaning be represented in the constructicon? Specifically, how, and on which levels, should frames and constructions be related to one another in a constructicon?
15.15 Coffee break
III. Constructional diversity and the design of a constructicon: (contrastive) case studies
15.45 Ann-Katrin Nöhren, Sascha Michel, Alexander Willich, Alexander Ziem (Düsseldorf) Combining Frames and Constructions – Double Particle Verbs and the German Constructicon Abstract
16.30 Thomas Herbst (Erlangen) Engcx - the English constructicon Abstract
17.15 Fabio Mollica (Mailand) Inheritance and other relations in the family of German Ethicus constructions [Note: talk is in German supported by English slides] Abstract
18.00 Exploring and enjoying Düsseldorf's Christmas markets
Friday, December 6, 2019
9.00 Carmen Mellado Blanco (Santiago de Compostela) Intensifying Constructions in German and Spanish: The Case of Idiomatic Resultative Constructions and their Equivalents in Spanish [Note: talk is in German supported by English slides] Abstract
9.45 Josef Ruppenhofer (Mannheim) Temporal expressions in German and English Abstract
10.30 Coffee break
11.00 Michael Pleyer (Koblenz-Landau), Stefan Hartmann (Bamberg) Towards a frame-based constructicon for child language acquisition: The case of the Commercial Event Frame Abstract
11.45 Katya Rakhilina/ Polina Bychkova (Moscow) Discourse formulae in the Russian Constructicon Abstract
12.30 Discussion round: What can case studies tell us about the (ideal) design of a (multilingual) constructicon?
13.00 Joint lunch (optional)