QLVL members - Kris Heylen


Kris Heylen (°1977) studied German and English literature and linguistics at the universities of Leuven and Tübingen. He was awarded his MA in Germanic Language Studies from Leuven University in 2000 and an MSc in Artificial Intelligence with a specialization in Speech and Language Technology in 2001. As young researcher of the Fund for Scientific Research — Flanders (FWO), he did corpus-based research on German syntax and was awarded his PhD in Linguistics (Leuven, 2005) for his work on the statistical modelling of word order variation in the middle field. As a post-doctoral research fellow at QLVL, he shifted his focus towards the statitstical modelling of lexical semantics and lexical variation, and more specifically to the introduction of distributional semantic models into lexicological research. Next to his fundamental research on lexical semantics, he has also a strong interest in exploring the use of quantive, corpus-based methods in applied linguistic research with projects in legal translation, vocabulary learning and medical terminology. Kris is currently affiliated as postdoctoral researcher to QLVL and to the Chair of Specialised Communication at the KU Leuven, Campus Antwerp.


E-mail: kris.heylen@kuleuven.be
Phone (mobile): +32 475844166
Surface mail: Leuven: Department of Linguistics, Blijde-Inkomststraat 21 PO Box 03308, B-3000 Leuven (Belgium)
Surface mail: Antwerp: KU Leuven, Campus Antwerp, Sint-Andriesstraat 2, 2000 Antwerpen (Belgium)
Office: Leuven: LETT 02.36 / Antwerp: STA 04.19



Kris Heylen's research focuses on syntactic and lexical variation, and more specifically on the interaction between structural and contextual sources of linguistic variability. A particular point of interest in his analyses is the application of innovative methods to linguistic research questions by making use of extensive corpus data and statistical analysis.

In his PhD research (2001-2005), Kris looked into a central problem of German syntax, viz. the relative order of verb arguments in the middle field. While most analyses up to that point were couched in generative syntactic framework and based on intuitive grammaticality judgments, Kris took a cognitive functional approach and introduced multivariate statistical analyses of corpus data to the field. These revealed a complex interaction between grammatical, semantic and pragmatic factors that additionally showed regional and register variation. Apart from his involvement in methodological innovation for variation research and in advancing quantitative corpus linguistics, Kris also contributed to the development of probabilistic and multifactorial grammar approaches in Cognitive Linguistics.

In his post-doctoral research, he focuses on the adaptation and application of techniques from statistical Natural Language Processing in computational linguistics to the linguistic study of lexical semantics, with special attention to sociolinguistic variation. More specifically, he contributed to the introduction of distributional semantic models as a method to systematically investigate differences in word choice and word meaning between language varieties in large amounts of corpus data.

Kris also has a strong interest in exploitating of quantitative corpus analysis methods for applied linguistics. As project manager of the IOF-Knowledge Platform TermWise (2010-2013), he brought together corpus linguists, terminologists and computer scientist to develop support tools for specialised legal translation and terminology management. Additionally, he applied QLVL's corpus methods to lexicography and database localization and in his current role as senior researcher affiliated to the Chair of Specialised Communication, he also brings his statistical and corpus methodological expertise to Translation and Interpreting Studies, Multilingual Communication Studies and Second Language Acquisition and Terminology Management. In line with this interest for applied research, he has also pursued colloborations with industry and the public sector (FOD Jusititie, Keesing NV, Televic NV, Lexical Computing Ltd.). In 2013-2014, he was joint winner of Best Business Plan Award (SJFinder) in the Knowledge & Technology Transfer Course organised by LRD.

Publications and Presenations

An overview of Kris' scientific output as QLVL member can be found in his personal section of the QLVL publication and presentation list . The following publications are representative of his research.

Heylen, K., Wielfaert, T., Speelman, D., & Geeraerts, D. (2015). Monitoring Polysemy. Word Space Models as a Tool for Large-Scale Lexical Semantic Analysis. Lingua, 157, 153-172.

Heylen, K., & De Hertog, D. (2015). Automatic Term Extraction. In H. J. Kockaert & F. Steurs (Eds.), Handbook of Terminology: Volume 1 (pp. 199-219). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Heylen, K., Bond, S., De Hertog, D., Vulic, I., & Kockaert, H. J. (2014). TermWise: A CAT-tool with Context-Sensitive Terminological Support. In Proceedings of the 9th edition of the Language Resources and Evaluation Conference (LREC), 4018-4022.

Heylen, K., & Ruette, T. (2013). Degrees of semantic control in measuring aggregated lexical distances. In L. Borin & A. Saxena (Eds.), Approaches to Measuring Linguistic Differences (pp. 353-374). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Heylen, K., Peirsman, Y., Geeraerts, D., & Speelman, D. (2008). Modelling word similarity: An evaluation of automatic synonymy extraction algorithms. In Proceedings of the Sixth International Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC) , 3243-3249. .

Heylen, K., Tummers, J., & Geeraerts, D. (2008). Methodological issues in corpus-based cognitive linguistics. In G. Kristiansen & R. Dirven (Eds.), Cognitive Sociolinguistics: Language Variation, Cultural Models, Social Systems (pp. 91-128). Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Heylen, K. (2005). A Quantitative Corpus Study of German Word Order Variation. In Stephan Kepser en Marga Reis (eds.), Linguistic Evidence: Empirical, Theoretical and Computational Perspectives 241-264. Berlin, Mouton de Gruyter.