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. In 2020 I was elected a member of the Academia Europaea (MAE).


Recent publications


Divjak, D & Milin, P 2023, Ten Lectures on Language as Cognition: A Multi-Method Approach. Distinguished Lectures in Cognitive Linguistics, vol. 28, Brill.


Grose-Hodge, M, Dabrowska, E & Divjak, D 2024, 'Beyond accuracy: Fluency and complexity in the spoken output of bilingual and monolingual preadolescents', Journal of Monolingual and Bilingual Speech, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 328-356.

Divjak, D, Testini, I & Milin, P 2024, 'On the nature and organisation of morphological categories: verbal aspect through the lens of associative learning', Journal of Morphology.

Divjak, D, Sun, H & Milin, P 2024, 'Physiological responses and cognitive behaviours: Measures of heart rate variability index language knowledge', Journal of Neurolinguistics, vol. 69, 101177.

Romain, L, Hanzlikova, D, Milin, P & Divjak, D 2024, 'Ruled by construal? Framing article choice in English', Constructions and Frames.

Romain, L & Divjak, D 2024, 'The types of cues that help you learn: Pedagogical implications of a computational simulation on learning the English tense/aspect system from exposure', Pedagogical Linguistics.

Milin, P & Divjak, D 2024, 'When there’s more than one elephant in the room: Interdisciplinary approaches to the study of language', Cognitive Psychology Bulletin, vol. 1, no. 9, pp. 7-15.

Milin, P, Tucker, BV & Divjak, D 2023, 'A learning perspective on the emergence of abstractions: The curious case of phone(me)s', Language and Cognition.

Ez-zizi, A, Divjak, D & Milin, P 2023, 'Error‐Correction Mechanisms in Language Learning: Modeling Individuals', Language Learning, vol. 74, no. 1.

Divjak, D, Romain, L & Milin, P 2023, 'From their point of view: The article category as a hierarchically structured referent tracking system', Linguistics.

Divjak, D, Milin, P, Medimorec, S & Borowski, M 2022, 'Behavioral signatures of memory resources for language: looking beyond the lexicon/grammar divide', Cognitive Science, vol. 46, no. 11, e13206.


Divjak, D & Milin, P 2023, Using computational cognitive modeling in usage-based linguistics. in M Díaz-Campos & S Balasch (eds), The Handbook of Usage-Based Linguistics. Blackwell Handbooks in Linguistics, Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 307-324.

Conference contribution

Madabushi, HT, Divjak, D & Milin, P 2022, Abstraction not Memory: BERT and the English Article System. in Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies. North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (NAACL), Association for Computational Linguistics, ACL, pp. 924-931, 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, NAACL 2022, Seattle, United States, 10/07/22.


Madabushi, HT, Romain, L, Milin, P & Divjak, D 2023 'Construction Grammar and Language Models' arXiv.

Madabushi, HT, Divjak, D & Milin, P 2022 'Abstraction not memory: BERT and the English article system' arXiv.

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