Founded in January 2001 by the CNRS and the University Paris X, the laboratory Modèles, Dynamiques, Corpus (MoDyCo) UMR 7114 was placed in 2006 under the authority of the CNRS, the University Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense and of the University Paris Descartes. In 2014, as a result of the reorganization of the university landscape, the laboratory was placed under the joint authority of the CNRS and the University Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense and is supported by the graduate school ED 139 “Knowledge, Language, Modelling”.

Initially, the research program was anchored in the thematic and methodological approach of linguistics research which had been conducted at the University Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense for many years. Centred on the linguistics of French, without excluding a priori the study of other languages, this thematic axis is grounded in an empirical approach which backs up linguistic analysis by a solid descriptive foundation that takes into account the reality of conversational, textual or discursive usages. Thus, linguistic analysis and models are grounded in several contemporary theoretical frameworks but always supported by corpora studies.

In 2006, the integration of LEAPLE (ex UMR 8606, CNRS–Université Paris Descartes) led to a considerable expansion of research in language acquisition, both normal and pathological, in early language learning – at home or at school– and in second language learning.

In 2009, professors and associate professors in Communication studies and Information Science joined the laboratory.

The research themes of the laboratory concern three fields: Models, Dynamics and Corpora.

1) Research in Models concerns phonological, morphological, syntactic and semantic studies, as well as research in formalization and natural language processing; they are conducted by the “Modelling and usage grammars” and “LangGram” teams. The “Heterogeneity of languages, discourses and language development” team studies pragmatic, discursive, and textual themes and symbolic forms. The program of research in this field is centred on the explicit and formalized description of languages which is carried out by the definition and exploration of different levels of language organization (phonological, morphological, syntactic, semantic…) and by the discovery of dependency or autonomy relationships between these levels. The common theoretical point on which all the above research converges is the non-unicity of language, implying its structural heterogeneity.

2) Research in Dynamics is organized in two teams: “First and second language acquisition” and “Speech and Communication”. The first theme concerns the normal and pathological acquisition of native or second languages, at home or in a school environment, as well as in didactics. The second team focuses on sociolinguistic and socio-stylistic topics, on issues linked to variation, the specificities of speech and the relationships with norms.

3) Research into Corpora cross-cuts the above domains: though closely linked to research in textual linguistics, whether diachronic or discursive, as well as to written linguistics, it also concerns the other fields as a support methodology. Studies of situated corpora have shown that the lexicon, morphology and syntax, as well as the semantic issues of ambiguity and implicitness, vary with the discourse genre, both orally and in writing. In order to achieve specific and effective automatic processing, it is necessary to specify the characteristics of different textual discourses and genres. Moreover, textual typology provides new data for morphology and syntax. In a nutshell, the study of social norms usefully completes that of rules and makes it possible to specify their conditions of application.

The analysis of large corpora is thus relevant both for the formulation of hypotheses and for the search of examples or variations that will enable norms of different scopes and levels (discourse, genres, styles) to be detected within a language: the status of empirical study is changing. MoDyCo is firmly anchored in this modernity, through its empirical and theoretical approach. The building of electronic speech corpora linked with new ways of tagging and pre-processing, allowing treatments on a large scale, provides cutting-edge tools to validate hypotheses on the respective roles of different levels of analysis and organisation of the language, thus modifying the relationship between theory and practice.

The laboratory is a board member of the Institut de Linguistique Française (ILF, Fédération CNRS), maintains extensive collaboration with French academic laboratories and is involved in several international funded projects.

Getting there

Building A on the campus

By RER A :

  • 25 mn from the Chatelet-Les Halles station in the center of Paris. Take the RER A towards Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Get off at Nanterre-Université. Enter the campus, go straight ahead until reaching building A on your left.

By RER L : 

  • 20 mn from the train station Saint-Lazare. Take the RER L towards Nanterre Université. Get off at Nanterre-Université. Enter the campus, go straight ahead until reaching building A on your left 


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