Professor Neil Bermel

BA (Yale), MA, PhD (Berkeley), Professor of Russian and Slavonic Studies

Photo: Professor Neil Bermel

Contact details

Telephone: +44 (0)114 222 7405+44 (0)114 222 7405

Email :


A native of New York, I studied Russian at university and picked up Czech in graduate school as a secondary interest that has gradually become my primary one. I came to Sheffield in 1996 as lecturer in Czech language and linguistics and was Head of Russian and Slavonic Studies from 2007-2009 and Head of School of Languages and Cultures from 2010-2014.

I have held roles in the national Slavonic studies associations in the UK (BASEES) and the US (AATSEEL), as well as Czech studies internationally (IATC). Along the way, I have led two projects for creating electronic resources for language teaching in collaboration with the LDMU and CILASS at Sheffield, and have been involved in the local Czech and Slovak communities in the city.

When not engaged in weighty academic pursuits, I can often be found taking long but not overly strenuous walks through the Derbyshire countryside.

Research interests

My research has centred on variation in grammar and form in Czech and Russian. Currently it has two major strands: ways of evaluating variation in language, including the use of questionnaires, tests and corpora (for more information about current work see Leverhulme Trust funded project); and the study of the processes of formal and informal regulation of language. I am particularly interested in the intersection between language usage and language regulation. I maintain an interest in contemporary Czech literature, having translated two novels by the Czech author Pavel Kohout, a volume of short stories by Daniela Fischerová, and Helga's Diary, an autobiographical account by Holocaust survivor Helga Weiss.

Selected publications

Most files are pre-publication versions; please check the final published version before citing.

  • Bermel, N., Knittl, L. and Russell, J. (2015) Morphological variation and sensitivity to frequency of forms among native speakers of Czech, Russian Linguistics 39(105), 1-26.
  • Bermel, N., Knittl, L. & Russel, J. (2014) Absolutní a proporcionální frekvence v ČNK ve světle výzkumu morfosyntaktické variace v češtině [Absolute and proportional frequency in the Czech National Corpus in the light of morphosyntactic variation research in Czech]. Naše řeč, 97(4-5), 216-227.
  • Bermel, N. (2014) Czech diglossia: dismantling or dissolution? In Árokay, Judit, Jadranka Gvozdanović and Darja Miyajima, eds. Divided Languages? Diglossia, Translation and the Rise of Modernity in Japan, China and the Slavic World, 21–37. Dordrecht: Springer.
  • Bermel, N. & Knittl, L. (2012) Corpus frequency and acceptability judgements: A study of morphosyntactic variants in Czech, Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory, 8(2), 241-275. (full text)
  • Bermel, N. & Knittl, L. (2012), Morphosyntactic variation and syntactic constructions in Czech nominal declension: corpus frequency and native-speaker judgements, Russian Linguistics 36 (1), 91-119. (full text)
  • „O takzvané české diglosii v moderním světě [On so-called Czech diglossia in the modern world]“. Slovo a slovesnost 71 (2010), no. 1: 5-30. (full text)
  • „Variace a frekvence variant na příkladu tvrdých neživotných maskulin [Variation and the frequency of variants in hard inanimate masculine nouns].“ In Čmejrková, Světla, Jana Hoffmannová and Eva Havlová, eds., Užívání a prožívání jazyka (K 90. narozeninám Františka Daneše) [Living With and Through Language: A Festschrift for the 90th Birthday of František Daneš]. Prague: Karolinum, 2010: 135-140. (full text)
  • “A pilot study on the relationship between corpus data and acceptability judgments of competing forms.” In Krčmová, Marie, ed. Languages in the Integrating World. Munich: Lincom Europa, 2010: 233-245. [Also issued in Czech in a parallel volume.] (full text)
  • „Pilotní studie o vztahu mezi korpusovými daty a soudy o přijatelnosti konkurujících si tvarů [A pilot study on the relationship between corpus data and acceptability judgments of competing forms].“ In Krčmová, Marie, ed. Integraci v jazycích – jazyky v integraci [Integration in Languages – Languages in Integration]. Prague: Nakladatelství Lidové Noviny, 2010: 51-63. [Original Czech version of the preceding entry.] (full text)
  • „Pravidla jako cukr nebo bič? Pravopis v Českém národním korpusu [Spelling rules: a carrot or a stick? Orthography in the Czech National Corpus].“ Naše řeč 91 (2008): 1-12, 57-67. (Naše řeč is the journal of the Czech Language Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences.) (full text)
  • “What can corpora tell us about centre and periphery in Czech morphology?” In Štícha, František, ed. Gramatika a korpus [Grammar and Corpora], 5-16. Prague: Czech Language Institute, 2007. (full text)
  • Linguistic Authority, Language Ideology, and Metaphor: The Czech Spelling Wars. Language Power and Social Process 17. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2007. 369 pp.
  • „Tvary minulého příčestí v Českém národnim korpusu: táh, táhl, či táhnul? [Forms of the past participle in the Czech National Corpus: táh, táhl, or táhnul?]“ In Čermák, František, Karel Kučera and Vladimír Petkevič, eds. Korpusová lingvistika: stav a modelové přístupy [Corpus linguistics: its state and model approaches]. Prague: Karolinum, 2006. (full text)
  • „V korpuse nebo v korpusu? Co nám řekne (a neřekne) ČNK o morfologické variaci v tvarech lokálu [V korpuse or v korpusu? What the Czech National Corpus can (and can’t) tell us about variation in the locative singular]“ In Hladková, Zdena and Petr Karlík, eds. Čeština – univerzália a specifika 5 [The Czech language – universals and specifics, vol. 5], Prague: Nakladatelství Lidové Noviny, 2004: 163-171. (full text)
  • “Standard and standardized verb forms in the Czech National Corpus.” In Blatná, Renata and Vladimír Petkevič, eds. Jazyky a jazykověda: Sborník k 65. narozeninám prof. Františka Čermáka [Languages and linguistics: A festschrift in honour of Professor František Čermák’s 65th birthday]. Prague: Filozofická fakulta Univerzity Karlovy, 2004: 487-502. (full text)
  • „Jak často se vyskytují (vyskytujou) tzv. hovorové tvary 1. os. j. č. a 3. os. mn. č. v Českém národním korpusu? [How often do so-called ‘colloquial’ present-tense verb forms occur in the Czech National Corpus?]“ In Karlík, Petr, ed. Korpus jako zdroj dat o češtině [Corpora as a source of data about Czech]. Brno: Masarykova univerzita, 2004: 29-40. (full text)
  • Register Variation and Language Standards in Czech. Lincom Europa, Studies in Slavic Linguistics 13, 2000. 132 pp.
  • "Autoappendicectomy in the Antarctic." British Medical Journal 339 (2009): 1420-1422. Edited and translated from Czech and Russian; original text by Vladislav Rogozov. (full text)

Recent invited and plenary talks

  • Charles University, Prague, The Institute of the Czech National Corpus, Corpus linguistics
    September 2014. “Mapování jazykové variability ve světle korpusové frekvence a odpovědí rodilých mluvčích.”
  • University of Warsaw and The Slavic Foundation, Grammar and Corpora 5
    June 2014. "From standard to norm through the lens of corpora and native speakers.”
  • University of Sheffield, Postgraduate linguistics conference
    February 2014. “From language to corpus and back again: Putting corpus data to native speakers.”
  • University of York, Department of Linguistics
  • November 2013. “Representative corpora and language users.”
  • University of Glasgow, School of Modern Languages and Cultures
    February 2010. “Language as a tool for (mis)understanding: Ideology, reform and counter-reform in Czech spelling.”
  • University of Vienna, Institut für Slawistik
    November 2009. “Linking corpus data to native intuition in Czech.”
  • Download a list of Neil's publications and conference/seminar papers

    Research students currently supervised

    • Dario Lecic (primary supervisor)
    • Fadhel Shalal (primary supervisor)
    • Teresa Wigglesworth-Baker (primary supervisor)
    • Nina Szymor (Second supervisor)


    • RUS104 Russian for Beginners
    • RUS348-349 Intermediate Czech I-II
    • RUS381-382 Varieties of Written and Spoken Czech I-II
    • RUS385 Project in Czech Studies
    • RUS387 Czech to English Translation
    • RUS396 Advanced Translation from Russian
    • RUS3622 The Structures of Russian