Dr Jason Grafmiller

Dr Jason Grafmiller

Department of English Language and Linguistics
Lecturer in corpus-based sociolinguistics

Contact details

Frankland Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I am a lecturer in corpus-based sociolinguistics in English Language and Linguistics. My research focuses on the quantitative analysis of grammatical variation.


  • PhD in Linguistics, 2013, Stanford University
  • BA with distinction in Linguistics, 2006, The Ohio State University


I joined the Department of English Language and Linguistics in June 2017. Before coming to the University of Birmingham, I was a postdoctoral fellow in the Quantitative Lexicology and Variational Linguistics (QLVL) research unit in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven), Belgium.


At the undergraduate level in academic year 2017-18, I will be teaching the modules Research Skills in English Language and Sounds, Structures, and Words. At the postgraduate level, I’ll be teaching the Sociolinguistics and English as an International Language modules.

Postgraduate supervision

I am interested in supervising MA and PhD research in linguistic variation of all stripes, particularly work focused on investigating usage-based models of social and/or cognitive factors shaping morphosyntactic variation in English (or other languages).

Find out more - our PhD English Language and Applied Linguistics  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


My research aims to better understand the nature of syntactic variation in the context of natural language use. Most recently I have been investigating grammatical alternations in World Englishes, e.g. the particle placement alternation (I picked the book up ~ I picked up the book). Other areas of interest include: the interaction of syntactic, semantic and other cognitive factors in stylistic variation across registers and genres; the nature of so-called "end-weight" effects in word order variation; and the role of semantic features (esp. agency and animacy) in argument realization and transitivity alternations.

Other activities


Highlight publications

Grafmiller, J 2022, 'Visualizing grammatical similarities in comparative variationist analysis', Studies in Variation, Contacts and Change in English, vol. 22.

Engel, A, Grafmiller, J, Rosseel, L & Szmrecsanyi, B 2022, 'Assessing the complexity of lectal competence: the register-specificity of the dative alternation after give', Cognitive Linguistics. https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2021-0107

Engel, A, Grafmiller, J, Rosseel, L, Szmrecsanyi, B & Van de Velde , F 2021, How register-specific is probabilistic grammatical knowledge? A programmatic sketch and a case study on the dative alternation with give. in E Seoane & D Biber (eds), Corpus-based approaches to register variation. John Benjamins, Amsterdam, pp. 51-84. https://doi.org/10.1075/scl.103.03eng

Szmrecsanyi, B, Grafmiller, J & Rosseel, L 2019, 'Variation-based distance and similarity modeling: a case study in world Englishes', Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence, vol. 2, 23. https://doi.org/10.3389/frai.2019.00023

Grafmiller, J & Szmrecsanyi, B 2018, 'Mapping out particle placement in Englishes around the world. A study in comparative sociolinguistic analysis', Language Variation and Change, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 385-412. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954394518000170

Recent publications


Szmrecsanyi, B & Grafmiller, J 2023, Comparative Variation Analysis: Grammatical Alternations in World Englishes. Studies in Language Variation and Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108863742


Dubois, T, Grafmiller, J, Paquot, M & Szmrecsanyi, B 2023, 'Animacy effects in the English genitive alternation: comparing native speakers and EFL learner judgments with corpus data', Language and Cognition. https://doi.org/10.1017/langcog.2023.51

Tamaredo, I, Röthlisberger, M, Grafmiller, J & Heller, B 2019, 'Probabilistic indigenization effects at the lexis–syntax interface', English Language & Linguistics. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1360674319000133

Grafmiller, J, Szmrecsanyi, B, Röthlisberger, M & Heller, B 2018, 'General introduction: a comparative perspective on probabilistic variation in grammar', Glossa, vol. 3, no. 1, 94. https://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.690

Röthlisberger, M, Grafmiller, J & Szmrecsanyi, B 2017, 'Cognitive indigenization effects in the English dative alternation', Cognitive Linguistics. https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2016-0051

Szmrecsanyi, B, Grafmiller, J, Bresnan, J, Rosenbach, A, Tagliamonte, S & Todd, S 2017, 'Spoken syntax in a comparative perspective: The dative and genitive alternation in varieties of English', Glossa, vol. 2, no. 1: 86. https://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.310

Heller, B, Szmrecsanyi, B & Grafmiller, J 2017, 'Stability and fluidity in syntactic variation world-wide: The genitive alternation across varieties of English', Journal of English Linguistics, vol. 45, no. 1, pp. 3-27. https://doi.org/10.1177/0075424216685405

Szmrecsanyi, B, Grafmiller, J, Heller, B & Röthlisberger, M 2016, 'Around the world in three alternations: Modeling syntactic variation in global varieties of English', English World-Wide, vol. 37, no. 2, pp. 109-137. https://doi.org/10.1075/eww.37.2.01szm

Grafmiller, J, Szmrecsanyi, B & Hinrichs, L 2016, 'Restricting the restrictive relativizer: Constraints on subject and non-subject English relative clauses', Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory. https://doi.org/10.1515/cllt-2016-0015

Grafmiller, J 2014, 'Variation in English genitives across modality and genres', English Language & Linguistics, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 471-496. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1360674314000136

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Shih, S, Grafmiller, J, Futrell, R & Bresnan, J 2015, Rhythm's role in genitive and dative construction choice in English. in R Vogel & R van de Vijver (eds), Rhythm in Phonetics, Grammar, and Cognition. De Gruyter, pp. 207-234.

View all publications in research portal