Professor Dagmar DivjakDagmar Divjak

BA (KULeuven, Belgium), MA (KULeuven, Belgium), Academic Teacher Training (KULeuven, Belgium), Specialization in Polish Language and Culture (UJ Krakow, Poland), PhD (KULeuven, Belgium)

Professor of Cognitive Linguistics and Slavonic Languages

Contact details

Telephone: +44 (0)114 222 7401

Email :


After obtaining my PhD in Russian Linguistics from the KULeuven in 2004, I spent one year at the UNC at Chapel Hill (USA, 2004-2005) as a BAEF Francqui Fellow and one year at the University of Stockholm (Sweden, 2005-2006) as a Postdoctoral Fellow of the Research Foundation - Flanders.

I joined the Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies at the University of Sheffield (UK) in September 2006 as a Lecturer in Slavonic Languages and Linguistics. I am currently Director of the HumLab, the Faculty's new experimental facility for interdisciplinary research in Arts & Humanities and work with the Out Of Our Minds team to understand language knowledge and optimize language learning.

Research interests

My main research interest is in understanding how our cognitive capacities give rise to the patterns we see in language and how language learners might use these patterns to build up knowledge of their language. Because of my background in usage-based cognitive linguistics, frequency in all its guises plays a central role, and my work relies heavily on corpus- and experimental data. For more details about my research and research funding, including the Out Of Our Minds project, go here.

Among other duties, I co-edit De Gruyter's Cognitive Linguistic Research book series, am Associate Editor of Cognitive Linguistics and sit on the editorial boards of a number of journals, including Linguistics. I have recently completed a term as Vice-President, then President of the Slavic Cognitive Linguistics Association.

Research students

Jane Klavan (Tartu University, Estonia) successfully defended her PhD November 2012. She worked on constructional synonymy in Estonian locative constructions using corpus-based and experimental techniques. Click here to access the dissertation.

Nina Szymor obtained her PhD in translation cognition in October 2017. She elaborated a usage-based approach to translation universals, analyzing the choice of aspect in modal contexts in translated and non-translated Polish legal texts.

Jaroslaw Józefowski takes an empirical (corpus-based and experimental) approach to the Middle Voice in Polish. Polish has separate sets of middle and reflexive markers, which makes it an ideal testing ground for theories of middle marking that hinge on the relative distinguishability of the participants in the event.

As part of the Out Of Our Minds project, I co-supervise Dagmar Hanzlikova, Maciej Borowski and Christian Adam. You can read more about their research on the Out Of Our Minds project website

Selected recent publications


  • [under contract for 2018] Frequency in Language. Context, Memory and Attention. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • 2010. Structuring the Lexicon: a Clustered Model for Near-Synonymy. Berlin: De Gruyter. [Cognitive Linguistics Research 43].

Edited volumes and special issues

  • 2016. Cognitive Linguistics: Looking back, looking forward. Special Issue of Cognitive Linguistics 27(4). (together with Natalia Levshina and Jane Klavan).

  • 2015. Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics. Berlin: De Gruyter. [HSK] (together with Ewa Dąbrowska)

  • 2012. Frequency effects in language learning and processing. Volume 1. Berlin: De Gruyter. [Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs. 244.1] (together with Stefan Gries)

  • 2012. Frequency effects in language representation. Volume 2. Berlin: De Gruyter. [Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs. 244.2] (together with Stefan Gries) 

  • 2007. Cognitive Paths into the Slavic Domain. Berlin: De Gruyter. [Cognitive Linguistics Research 38]. (together with Agata Kochańska)

Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics

Divjak 2010



Divjak & Kochanska 2007

Selected recent peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters - downloadable from

  • 2017. The role of lexical frequency in the acceptability of syntactic variation. Evidence from that-clauses in Polish. Cognitive Science 42 (1): 354-382.
  • 2016. Man Meets Machine. Evaluating the psychological reality of corpus-based probabilistic models. Cognitive Linguistics 27 (1): 1-34. With Ewa Dąbrowska and Antti Arppe.
  • 2015. Less is More: possibility and necessity as centres of gravity in a usage-based classification of core modals in Polish. Russian Linguistics. International journal for the study of Russian and other Slavonic Languages 39 (3): 327-349. With Nina Szymor and Anna Socha-Michalik.
  • 2015. Exploring the grammar of perception. A case study using data from Russian. Functions of Language 22 (1): 44-68.
  • 2013. Extracting prototypes from exemplars. What can corpus data tell us about concept representation? Cognitive Linguistics 24 (2): 221-274. With Antti Arppe.

Recent keynote presentations

  • 2017. To abstract or not to abstract. The role of schematization in linguistic description and representation. 10th China Cognitive Linguistics Conference, Nanjing Normal University (China), 21-22 October 2017.
  • 2017. Prime time for the language sciences: between linguistics and psychology (with a pinch of engineering). 14th International Cognitive Linguistics Conference, Tartu (Estonia), 10-14 July 2017.
  • 2016. Implicit pattern learning abilities enhance language processing. Keynote lecture at the Fifth Chinese National Conference on Cognitive Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition, Jinan (China), 28-29 October 2016.
  • 2015. The paradoxical paradigm. Keynote lecture at the ParPar conference, Leuven (Belgium), 21 October 2015.
  • 2014. Grasping the phenomenon. Could salience be an epiphenomenon of frequency? Invited talk at the Perceptual Linguistic Salience workshop, Institute for Advanced Studies, Freiburg (Germany), 16-17 October 2014.
  • 2013. Man against machine: how well can we predict native speakers' lexical preferences from textual data alone? Invited lecture at Constructional and Lexical Semantic Approaches to Russian, Saint Petersburg (Russia), 12-14 September 2013.
  • 2013. Something from nothing: grounding concepts in language use. Keynote lecture at the 5th International Aflico conference, Lille (France), 15-17 May 2013.
  • 2012. Which frequencies count? Keynote lecture at CogLingDays 5, Biannual BeNeCla conference, Groningen (The Netherlands), 14-15 December 2012.

Current Teaching

Linguistics, in collaboration with Professor Neil Bermel

  • MDL 303/IPA650/IPA 660 Language in Use: an introduction to the theory and practice of corpus linguistics (Inquiry-based learning; student research project)
  • RUS 2633/3633 The Russian language and society (Inquiry-based learning; student research project)
  • RUS 3622 The Structures of Russian: aspect
  • MDL 104 Introduction to Linguistics: syntax & semantic