Unraveling Linguistic Productivity: Insights into usage, processing and variability

Ghent, May 21–23, 2024

Venue: Saint Peter’s Abbey (Sint-Pietersabdij) in the heart of Ghent.

The goal of the conference is to bring together linguists and psycholinguists from different horizons (synchronic, diachronic, sociolinguistic, behavioural, neurolinguistic, computational …) who take an interest in Linguistic Productivity.

When speakers produce or interpret language structures, they rely on a structured inventory of grammatical rules or constructions. Some of these are highly productive, having a broad domain of application and are readily available to coin new applications (involving new types), while others only have a very limited productivity. This has been observed both in morphology (Baayen 1991, 2009) and in syntax (Barðdal 2008, Zeldes 2012).

Despite all the research that has been done in the field, productivity still raises many questions, such as:

  • Corpus research has proposed many metrics (e.g type/token, hapax/token ratios; i.a. Baayen 2009), but how do these measures correlate with each other and which dimensions of productivity do they encompass? (Zeldes 2012)?
  • Productivity being a dimension of what people (implicitly) know about their language(s), of their mental language representations, it also manifests in elicited language behavior. Yet, how do productivity measures based on corpora match speakers’ intuitions when it comes to assessing the availability or applicability of constructions or rules to specific lexical items? And, how are coinages of such more or less productive patterns processed in on-line speech, both in production and comprehension ?
  • Since productivity may be seen as a constrained form of creativity (Goldberg 2019: 1; Hoffmann 2018), to which extent is productivity determined by socio-biographical and other individual factors (Dabrowska 2018)?
  • To what extent can diachronic research (i.a. Hartmann 2018) shed light on the conditions of change in productivity ?
  • How can one integrate productivity in a (psychologically plausible) theory of grammar?

Background information about the topic

The format of the conference, with no parallel sessions, is intended to encourage discussion among participants.

Key notes

  • Harald Baayen (Tübingen) & Kristian Berg (Bonn)
  • Ewa Dabrowska (Erlangen-Nürnberg)
  • Dagmar Divjak (Birmingham)
  • Adele Goldberg (Princeton)
  • Stefan Hartmann (Düsseldorf)
  • Thomas Hoffmann (Eichstätt-Ingolstadt)


Book of abstracts


Registration (until May 16)

Registration fee (including coffee and lunch breaks, welcome reception and guided city walk ; conference dinner NOT included)

Early bird (until April 7 23:59)

  • Phd student: 100 €
  • standard: 120 €

From April 8

  • PhD student: 150 €
  • standard: 150 €

Register now

Organizing Committee

Peter Lauwers (UGent), Maríia Baltais (UGent), Jóhanna Barðdal (UGent), Timothy Colleman (UGent), Ludovic De Cuypere (UGent – VUB), Renata Enghels (UGent), Quentin Feltgen (UGent), Martin Godts (UGent), Rob Hartsuiker (UGent), Mihaela Ilioaia (UGent), Anna Jessen (UGent), Peter Petré (University of Antwerp),  Hendrik de Smet (KU Leuven), Miriam Taverniers (UGent), Anouk Van Den Stock (UGent), Freek Van de Velde (KU Leuven).

Scientific Committee

Jóhanna Barðdal, Kristian Berg, Bert Capelle,  Timothy Colleman, Ludovic De Cuypere, Renata Enghels, Quentin Feltgen, Susanne Flach,  Rob Hartsuiker, Martin Hilpert,  Richard Huyghe, Mihaela Ilioaia, Marlies Jansegers, Anna Jessen,  Peter Lauwers,  Maria Mos, Peter Petré, Malte Rosemeyer, Sol Sansiñena, Hendrik De Smet, Augusto Soares da Silva, Miriam Taverniers, Graeme Trousdale,  Freek Van de Velde.


There are many options; early booking is recommended.

A small selection:

Public parking facilities (24/24): Parking Sint-Pietersplein, next to the conference venue

City map


  • Baayen, R. H. 1991. Quantitative aspects of morphological productivity. In Yearbook of Morphology 1991, ed. Booij, G. E., & J. Marle. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. 109–149.
  • Baayen, R. H. 2009. Corpus linguistics in morphology: morphological productivity. In Corpus Linguistics. An international handbook, ed. Lüdeling, A.& M. Kyto. Berlin: De Gruyter. 900–919.
  • Barðdal, J. 2008. Productivity: Evidence from Case and Argument Structure in Icelandic. (Constructional Approaches to Language 8). Amsterdam: Benjamins.
  • Dabrowska, E. 2018. Experience, aptitude and individual differences in native language ultimate attainment. Cognition, 178, 222–235.
  • Goldberg, A. 2019. Explain me this. Creativity, Competition, and the Partial Productivity of Constructions. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Hartmann, Stefan. 2018. “Derivational Morphology in Flux: A Case Study of Word-Formation Change in German.” Cognitive Linguistics, 29(1): 77–119.
  • Hoffmann, T. 2018. “Creativity and Construction Grammar: Cognitive and Psychological Issues” Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik,  66/3,  pp. 259-276.
  • Zeldes, A. 2012. Productivity in Argument Selection: From Morphology to Syntax. Berlin: De Gruyter.