Slavonic Languages and Linguistics
Our Department is unusual in the UK because it employs two research-active linguists. Aside from having a soft spot for Slavonic languages, Neil Bermel and Dagmar Divjak share an interest in usage-based theories of language and advocate the use of empirical methods in Slavonic linguistics. Usage-based theories posit that knowledge of a language resides in knowledge of actual usage and generalizations made over usage events; large textual databases and experiments provide the data they need to formulate and test hypotheses.
Much of our work looks at competition between forms such as aspectual forms, case endings and near-synonymous words or constructions in Slavonic languages such as Russian, Czech and Polish. Because we use advanced corpus analytical techniques for the analysis of Slavonic data and pair this with experimental work, our findings serve as catalysts for the further development of usage-based theory. For more detailed information, please refer to our individual staff pages.
In addition to this shared core, we have each developed specific interests and expertise. Neil Bermel has worked extensively on topics at the intersection between language structure and socio-linguistics, such as language policy and language change. Much of Dagmar Divjak’s work is specifically theoretical or methodological in nature, and focuses on issues such as the use of statistical modelling techniques to capture patterns in the data and the development of new methods (Behavioral Profiling) to describe linguistic relations more accurately. She is also interested in how speakers generalize over usage when they are exposed to not one, but two, three or more languages simultaneously.
We are involved in a range of research projects, and many of them involve colleagues abroad. Neil Bermel’s Leverhulme Trust funded project is investigating how different ways of measuring usage and acceptability to language users can assist in an accurate description of grammatical phenomena. It draws on longstanding collaborative work with colleagues in the Czech Academy of Sciences and the Czech National Corpus Institute.
Dagmar Divjak leads an international network of linguists who explore the extent to which linguistic categories are, and need to be, cognitively realistic. One project focuses on modality and explores how useful the traditional classifications of modality are for usage-based linguists. It involves PhD students in Sheffield and St Petersburg as well as and established researchers in Moscow (HSE), Zagreb (University of Zagreb) and Boston (Harvard).
Current research students
Nina Szymor (2013-), Translating Modality: a corpus-based cognitive-linguistic approach
Fadhel Shalal (2014-), Semantic and derivational features of the suffix -ка in Russian
Dario Lečić (2012-), Competing forms in the Croatian inflectional system
Jaroslaw Jozefowski (2014-),The Middle Voice in Polish
News & Events
Keynotes & invited lecture series
Prospective research students
If you want to write a PhD dissertation that looks at Slavonic data yet produces results that are of value to linguistic theory and methodology in general, you have come to the right address.
When decide to you join our cluster as a PGR student in linguistics, you will be part of a larger group of talented PGRs with similar concerns who working on cognate topics (see above). Many of our students are partly or fully funded and some have won prestigious PGR scholarships.
We also offer co-supervision to students registered at other Departments or Universities who need our theoretical, methodological or language-specific expertise. For more details, please see our personal websites.
What can research students in Slavonic linguistics expect to find at Sheffield?
Where are our alumni?