Professor Neil Bermel
BA (Yale), MA, PhD (Berkeley)
School of Languages and Cultures
Professor of Russian and Slavonic Studies
+44 114 222 7405
Full contact details
School of Languages and Cultures
1 Upper Hanover Street
A native of New York, I studied Russian at school and 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 after some years found myself as Head of Russian and Slavonic Studies (2007-2009, 2016-17) and Head of the School of Languages and Cultures (2009-2014).
Having served a term as Director of Admissions for the School, I am now taking a turn as its Director of Research.
When not engaged in weighty academic pursuits, I can often be found taking long but not overly strenuous walks through Sheffield or the Derbyshire countryside.
- Research interests
My research has centred on variation in grammar and form in Czech and Russian, but has extended into other areas of language culture, including language regulation and planning and management of multilingual interactions. Currently it has four major strands:
- Methods of evaluating variation in language, including the use of questionnaires, tests and corpora (for more information about current work see our major AHRC-sponsored project Feast and Famine, involving collaborators at seven partner universities; for previous work on this see our Leverhulme Trust funded project);
- Processes of formal and informal regulation of language. I am particularly interested in the intersection between language usage and language regulation;
- Linguistic landscapes and language management at Czech heritage sites, which incorporates work with student researchers and translators, and impact work with partners in the Czech Republic (for more information see the project website).
- Translation of contemporary Czech literature: I have 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.
- Linguistic Authority, Language Ideology, and Metaphor. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co.KG.
- Linguistic Authority, Language Ideology, and Metaphor: The Czech Orthography Wars. Berlin, Germany: Mouton de Gruyter.
- Register variation and language standards in Czech.
- Context and the Lexicon in the Development of Russian Aspect. Univ of California Press.
- Attitudes Towards English in Europe: English in Europe. Germany: Walter de Gruyter.
- Explaining uncertainty and defectivity of inflectional paradigms. Cognitive Linguistics.
- Frequency data from corpora partially explain native-speaker ratings and choices in overabundant paradigm cells. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory, 14(2). View this article in WRRO
- Corpora and quantitative data in Slavic languages. Russian Linguistics, 39(3), 275-282.
- Morphological variation and sensitivity to frequency of forms among native speakers of Czech. Russian Linguistics, 39(3), 283-308. View this article in WRRO
- View this article in WRRO From standard to norm through the lens of corpora and native speakers. Prace Filologiczne(LXVII), 21-43.
- IN THE WORKS OF ENGLISH?. SLOVO A SLOVESNOST, 76(3), 238-240.
- English at work: A report from the conference "English in Business and Commerce: Interactions and Policies", Prague, March 22–23, 2014. Slovo a Slovesnost, 76(3), 238-240.
- View this article in WRRO Absolutní a proporcionální frekvence v ČNK ve světle výzkumu morfosyntaktické variace v češtině. Naše řeč, 97(4-5), 216-227.
- Corpus frequency and acceptability judgments: A study of morphosyntactic variants in Czech. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory, 8.2, 241-276.
- Morphosyntactic variation and syntactic constructions in Czech nominal declension: corpus frequency and native-speaker judgments. Russian Linguistics, 36(1), 91-119.
- On the alleged Czech diglossia in the contemporary world. Slovo a Slovesnost, 71(1), 5-30.
- O tzv. české diglosii v současném světě. Slovo a Slovesnost, 71(1), 5-30.
- Auto-appendectomy in the Antarctic: Case report. BMJ (Online), 339(7735), 1420.
- Auto-appendectomy in the Antarctic: case report.. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 339.
- Pravidla jako cukr nebo bič? Pravopis v Českém národním korpusu. Naše řeč, 91(1-2), 1-12.
- Pravidla jako cukr nebo bič? Pravopis v Českém národním korpusu: 1. část. Naše Řeč, 91(1), 1-12.
- Pravidla jako cukr nebo bič? Pravopis v Českém národním korpusu: 2. část. Naše Řeč, 91(2), 57-67.
- 'Celestial Harmonies'. NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, 13-13.
- An Introduction to Twentieth-Century Czech Fiction: Comedies of Defiance. World Literature Today, 77(1), 149-149.
- The Czech language: Foundations of the language structure, past and present. SLAVONIC AND EAST EUROPEAN REVIEW, 81(1), 99-100.
- Velky cesko-anglicky slovnik/Comprehensive Czech-English Dictionary. The Slavic and East European Journal, 47(1), 152-152.
- Lovers and Murderers. The Slavic and East European Journal, 46(3), 613-613.
- 'Two Murders in My Double Life'. NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, 37-37.
- 'City Sister Silver'. NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, 24-24.
- Parameters of Slavic Aspect: A Cognitive Approach. By Stephen M. Dickey. Dissertations in Linguistics. Stanford, Calif.: CSLI Publications, 2000. Dist. Cambridge University Press, xii, 316 pp. Notes. Bibliography. Index. Figures. Tables. $59.95, hard bound. $22.95, paper.. Slavic Review, 60(3), 615-616.
- Střídání kódu 'či míšení jazykových prostřdku'? K popisu dialogu v české beletrii. Naše Řeč, 84(1), 16-30.
- Spoken Czech in Literature: The Case of Bondy, Hrabal, Placak and Topol. The Slavic and East European Journal, 44(2), 354-354.
- Discourse in English Translations of Karel ČApek'sTales from Two Pockets. Translation Review, 55(1), 6-11.
- A geography of case semantics: The Czech dative and the Russian instrumental. Russian Linguistics, 22(1), 131-136.
- Aspect and the shape of action in Old Russian. Russian Linguistics, 19(3), 333-348.
- Uncertainty in the production of Czech noun and verb forms. Word Structure.
- Democratizing Linguistic Forms, Languages and Nationalism Instead of Empires (pp. 114-139). Routledge
- The linguistic landscape of a Czech heritage site: Recording and presenting the past and present of Hrubý Rohozec In Sherman T & Nekvapil J (Ed.), English in Business and Commerce (pp. 194-228). De Gruyter Mouton View this article in WRRO
- Still on the brink: the productivity of Czech nominative plural desinences In Makarova A, Dickey S & Divjak D (Ed.), Each Venture a New Beginning Studies in Honor of Laura A. Janda (pp. 193-210). Bloomington, IN: Slavica Publishers.
- Czech Diglossia: Dismantling or Dissolution?, Divided Languages? (pp. 21-37). Springer International Publishing
- Divided Languages? Springer International Publishing View this article in WRRO
- Frequency and oppositions in corpus-based research into morphological variation In Konopka M, Kubczak J, Mair C, Sticha F & Wassner U (Ed.), Grammatik und Korpora 2009 (pp. 373-388). BoD – Books on Demand
Conference proceedings papers
- Do users’ reading skills and difficulty ratings for texts affect choices and evaluations?. Taming the Corpus: From inflection and lexis to interpretation, 8 April 2016 - 9 April 2016. View this article in WRRO
- Research group
• Jonathan Israel Escobar Farfán, A Corpus-based Study of Nahuatl Contemporary Writing: Investigating a Continuum for Language Planning, awaiting viva
• Fadhel Shalal, The Russian suffix -k(a): Between Inflection and Derivation, completed 2018
• Dario Lečić, Competing Forms in the Croatian Inflection System, completed 2017
• Teresa Wigglesworth-Baker, Language Policy and Russian-titular Bilingualism in Post-Soviet Tatarstan, completed 2015
• Marie Sanders, Changes in Czech Vocabulary Against the Background of Socio-political Changes from the 1980s to the Present, completed 2009
• James Wilson, Moravians in Prague: A Sociolinguistic Study of Dialect Accommodation in the Czech Republic, completed 2007
I am interested in supervising postgraduate research on:
• Topics relating to the morphology of Slavonic languages, especially involving the use of corpora or experiments with a usage-based focus;
• Language culture, language regulation/planning and written languages, both in Slavonic and more broadly; and
• Literary translation, with a focus on the Slavonic world
- Teaching interests
I maintain an active interest in language teaching methods and practices:
- Co-author Ilona Kořánová and I created the Interactive Czech web course and coursebook, which is an extensive and comprehensive B1-level course in the Czech language oriented around a communicative core (rather than purely focused on grammar topics).
- An ongoing project on Translating Czech Castles, conceived and carried out with Luděk Knittl, has involved students in translation and in research into multilingualism.
- Together with primary author Luděk Knittl, I played a role in designing our final year Varieties of Czech web course and our internal History of the Czech Lands website and course.
- I have also led on internal initiatives to examine our interface with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and to map the scope of projects and teaching within the school with a community and external engagement dimension.
- Teaching activities
- Beginners’ Russian
- Intermediate Russian
- Advanced Russian Translation
- Beginners’ Czech
- Intermediate Czech
- Advanced Czech Translation
- Russian Linguistics
- Linguistics for Students of Modern Languages
- Professional activities and memberships
External institutional reviews and advisory boards:
• Research Infrastructure for Diachronic Czech Studies, Advisory Board member, 2017-2020
• Czech National Corpus Institute, Advisory Board member, 2016-2019, and AB chair, 2016-2017
• Czech Academy of Sciences, Panel 12 – Institutional review of institutes of language and literature, 2015, panel member and report co-ordinator for a panel institute
• Czech National Corpus Institute, Institutional review, external assessor, 2013
• Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Language Institute, Institutional review, panel member, 2010
• Associate Editor of the Journal of Slavic Linguistics, 2016-
Membership of editorial boards:
• Slavonic and East European Review, 2013-.
• Korpus – Gramatika – Axiologie [A Czech journal of corpus linguistics, published by the Czech Language Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences], 2010-
• Slavonica, 2008-.
• Slovo a slovesnost [a journal of general linguistics, published by the Linguistics Association of the Czech Republic], 2006-.
• Naše řeč [Czech linguistics, published by the Czech Language Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences, 2009-.
• Slovo a smysl [literature, language and translation studies, Department of Czech Literature, Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Charles University, Prague], 2004-.
• Heritage Language Journal [language of quasi-native speaker learners, e-journal, University of California, Los Angeles], 2003-.
• Bohemistyka [literary and linguistic studies, Opole, Poland], 2001-.
External examining of PhD theses:
• Charles University, Prague, PhD (Mathematical Linguistics), 2018
• Charles University, Prague, PhD (Czech Language), 2017
• Charles University, Prague, PhD (Corpus Linguistics), 2015
• University of Newcastle, PhD (Creative Writing/Literature), 2014
• University of Leeds, PhD (Slavic/Applied Linguistics/Computing), 2013
• University of Surrey, PhD (Polish/Linguistics), 2014-15
• University of Oxford, confirmation of PhD status (Russian Linguistics), 2003
• Trinity College, Dublin, PhD (Translation), 2002
External examining of taught courses:
• University of Bristol, BA/MA (Czech studies), 2015-2019
• University of Durham, BA Russian Studies, 2009-2013
• University of Oxford, MPhil (Slavonic Studies), 2002, 2008-2009; BA (Czech with Slovak), 2001-2003
• University of Surrey, BA courses in Russian, 2006-2010
• University of Glasgow, BA/MA (courses and modules in Czech and Central European studies), 2003-2007