Professor Dagmar Divjak

Professor Dagmar Divjak

Department of Modern Languages
Professorial Research Fellow in Cognitive Linguistics and Language Cognition

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. I work with the Out Of Our Minds team to understand language knowledge and optimize language learning and am Editor-in-Chief of the journal Cognitive Linguistics.


  • BA (KULeuven, Belgium), 1995
  • MA (KULeuven, Belgium), 1997
  • Academic Teacher Training (KULeuven, Belgium), 1997
  • Specialization in Polish Language and Culture (UJ Krakow, Poland), 1998
  • PhD (KULeuven, Belgium), 2004


Originally from Belgium, I completed my Undergraduate and Postgraduate training in Slavonic Philology at the KULeuven, Belgium. I also hold a Degree in Teaching Modern Foreign Languages from the same institution. After I had spent a year in Poland specializing in Polish Language and Culture (UJ Krakow, Poland), I returned to my Alma Mater to teach Russian at the Undergraduate level. Frustrated by the inadequacy of the grammatical descriptions I could offer my students, I embarked on a PhD in linguistics, funded by the Research Council (FWO Flanders), in 2000.

After obtaining my PhD 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 (FWO 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 Chair in 2018. I have held a wide range of administrative and leadership roles. Notably, as Director of Russian & Polish I lead and revamped UG language programs in Russian and Polish and as Director of the Centre for Linguistic Research I lead on the establishment of the HumLab, an experimental facility for interdisciplinary research in Arts & Humanities. 

In January 2019 I joined the University of Birmingham as Professorial Research Fellow and am working with the Out of our Minds team to understand language and make language learning a more natural and rewarding experience.


Recent publications


Divjak, D & Dabrowska, E (eds) 2019, Cognitive Linguistics: Foundations of Language. Mouton Reader, De Gruyter, Berlin.

Divjak, D & Dabrowska, E (eds) 2019, Cognitive Linguistics: A Survey of Linguistic Subfields. Mouton Reader, De Gruyter, Berlin.

Divjak, D & Dabrowska, E (eds) 2019, Cognitive Linguistics: Key Topics. Mouton Reader, De Gruyter, Berlin.

Divjak, D 2019, Frequency in Language: Memory, Attention and Learning. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.


Medimorec, S, Milin, P & Divjak, D 2021, 'Working memory affects anticipatory behavior during implicit pattern learning', Psychological Research, vol. 85, no. 1, pp. 291-301.

Milin, P, Tucker, BV & Divjak, D 2020, 'A learning perspective on the emergence of abstractions: the curious case of phonemes', arXiv.

Madabushi, HT, Romain, L, Divjak, D & Milin, P 2020, 'CxGBERT: BERT meets Construction Grammar', arXiv.

Divjak, D & Milin, P 2020, 'Exploring and exploiting uncertainty: Statistical learning ability affects how we learn to process language along multiple dimensions of experience', Cognitive Science, vol. 44, no. 5, e12835.

Medimorec, S, Milin, P & Divjak, D 2020, 'Frogs, apples, and sand: effects of cognitive and demographic factors on letter fluency performance', Current Psychology.

Divjak, D, Milin, P, Ez-zizi, A, Jozefowski, J & Adam, C 2020, 'What is learned from exposure: an error-driven approach to productivity in language ', Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 60-83.

Divjak, D, Milin, P & Medimorec, S 2019, 'Construal in language: a visual-world approach to the effects of linguistic alternations on event perception and conception', Cognitive Linguistics, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 37–72.

Milin, P, Divjak, D & Baayen, RH 2017, 'A learning perspective on individual differences in skilled reading: exploring and exploiting orthographic and semantic discrimination cues', Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, vol. 43, no. 11, pp. 1730-1751.


Divjak, D 2018, Binding scale dynamics: fact or fiction? in D Van Olmen, T Mortelmans & F Brisard (eds), Aspects of Linguistic Variation. Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs , De Gruyter, Berlin, pp. 9-42.

Divjak, D, Olga, L, Maria, O & Szymor, N 2018, Looking for contextual cues to differentiate modal meanings: a corpus-based study. in Quantitative Approaches to the Russian language. New Developments in the Quantitative Study of Languages, Routledge, pp. 51-78.

Other contribution

Milin, P, Tayyar Madabushi, H, Croucher, M & Divjak, D 2020, Keeping it simple: Implementation and performance of the proto-principle of adaptation and learning in the language sciences. arXiv. <>

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