Two grants for Frans Adriaans’ research on computer models of language development

Moeder leest boekje met jong kind. Foto: ©

Linguist Frans Adriaans is a recipient of both the Dynamics of Youth Invigoration Grant and the Human-centred Artificial Intelligence Grant. The grants, awarded by two focus areas of Utrecht University, will benefit two of his projects.

Human language development

“My research focuses on computational modelling of human language development,” Adriaans explains. “With these grants, we can learn more about early language development and annotate existing recordings of Dutch infant-directed speech so that we can then use the data in computational research.”

Dr. Frans Adriaans
Dr. Frans Adriaans

“Within the Dynamics of Youth project, we will focus on using computational models to better understand early language development. Within the Human-centred Artificial Intelligence project, we aim to develop practical tools to automatically annotate these kinds of datasets.”

Infant-directed speech vs adult-directed speech

Adriaans receives the Invigoration Grant from the Dynamics of Youth strategic theme for his project ‘Linguistic and Paralinguistic Characteristics of Dutch Intant-directed Speech and Early Infant Vocalizations: A Computational Perspective’.

“Within this project, the research team, which includes Heysem Kaya and Anika van der Klis, is working on a new dataset that we will use to study early language development using computational methods,” Adriaans explains. “This will hopefully allow us to see the influence of infant-directed speech on the learnability of Dutch vowels, for example. We will also see to what extent it is possible to use the speech signal and contextual information to automatically determine whether the speech is addressed to a child or an adult.”

In addition, the team has received a ‘small grant’ from the Human-centred Artificial Intelligence focus area. “This project is an extension of the Dynamics of Youth project, as here we are working on an automatic annotation system for infant-directed speech versus adult-directed speech.”