Dr 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)

Reader in Slavonic Languages and Linguistics - on study leave Spring 2017

Contact details

Telephone: +44 (0)114 222 7401

Email : d.divjak@sheffield.ac.uk


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 and was promoted to Reader in January 2012. I have served as Director of Russian & Polish Studies and am currently Director of the Centre for Linguistic Research and Director of the HumLab, the Faculty's new experimental facility for interdisciplinary research in Arts & Humanities.

Research interests

My main research interests are in understanding how our cognitive capacities give rise to the patterns and structures we see in language and in charting what language has to offer the learner in his/her quest for meaning. Because of my background in usage-based cognitive linguistics, frequency in all its guises plays a central role in my work. (For a more detailed description of my research follow the link).

Among other duties, I am president of the Slavic Cognitive Linguistics Association (SCLA), 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.

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 is interested in translation cognition. She is working on a usage-based approach to translation universals, analyzing the choice of aspect in modal contexts in translated and non-translated Polish legal texts. Her work is empirical and links in with the SemNet project (The Structure of Semantic Networks in Translation) led by Dr Gert De Sutter (Ghent University, Belgium).

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.

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

  • 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 - available for download from the right

  • 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

  • 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.


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 3633 The Russian language and society (Inquiry-based learning)
  • RUS 3622 The Structures of Russian: aspect
  • MDL 104 Introduction to Linguistics: syntax & semantics

Russian, in collaboration with Dr Adam Fergus, Ms Marianna Ivanova and Ms Liudmila Nedialkova

  • RUS 103/104 Beginners' Russian: linguistic concepts
  • RUS105/106 and 207/208 Post-A-level/Intermediate Russian: grammar

Polish, in collaboration with Mrs Nina Szymor and Dr Joanna Kowalska

  • RUS123/124 and RUS 309/310 Polish Language and Culture for Beginners: grammar 
  • RUS350/351 Intermediate Polish: grammar 
  • RUS383/384 Advanced Polish: grammar (materials developed with CEELBAS grants)
  • RUS386 Project in Polish studies: UG linguistics dissertation supervisor