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V.A.Y. Verhagen MA

Teacher, Instructor , Lecturer 

Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences
Department Communication and Cognition


Suppose a number of people encounter the utterance She is employed as a PhD student at Tilburg University, to what extent would they differ in the linguistic units they employ in processing it, and can we explain these differences?

While this utterance can be produced and understood by accessing the individual words and the syntactic structures in which they are embedded, we may also employ larger processing units such as multi-word units (e.g. at Tilburg University) and partially schematic units (e.g. be employed as NP). As psycholinguistic research has uncovered, some of these chunks of language are stored better than others: their degrees of entrenchment differ. Furthermore, what is stored and what is not, varies from person to person, as well as over time.

According to usage-based approaches, such differences arise from differences in language use. Linguistic representations are considered to be formed on the basis of a person?s linguistic experiences. More precisely, those elements that are used frequently, will become entrenched as units.

In my research project I address the following two questions:

1)To what extent is there individual variation in the degree to which different word strings are entrenched? if usage frequency determines degree of entrenchment, you would expect differences between language users, as they differ in their linguistic experiences. It is not known, though, how large these differences are.

2)Are there factors beyond frequency that influence the degree of entrenchment

In order to answer these questions, I make use of different research methods: corpus research, online and offline experiments.



News items

  • Thesis Award
    Winner of the Tilburg University Research master's Thesis Award 2011  

Principal publications

  • Verhagen, V., Mos, M., Backus, A. & Schilperoord, J. (2018). Predictive language processing revealing usage-based variation. Language and Cognition 10(2), 329-373.
  • Verhagen, V., Mos, M., Schilperoord, J. & Backus, A. (submitted). Variation is information: Analyses of variation across items, participants, time, and methods in metalinguistic judgment data. Linguistics.
  • Verhagen, V. & Mos, M. (2016). Stability of familiarity judgments: individual variation and the invariant bigger picture. Cognitive Linguistics 27(3), 307-344.
  • Verhagen, V. (2011). Individual differences in entrenchment of multiword units: Evidence from a Magnitude Estimation task. (Master's thesis, Tilburg University, the Netherlands).
  • Verhagen, V. & Backus, A. (2011). Individual differences in the perception of entrenchment of multiword units: Evidence from a Magnitude Estimation task. Toegepaste Taalwetenschap in Artikelen 84/85, 155-165.
Last amended: 05 June 2018