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.


Pre-publication drafts can be downloaded from


  • [under contract] Ten lectures in Cognitive Linguistics: The Cognitive Commitment 25 Years On. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.
  • 2019 [to appear] Frequency in Language. Context, Memory and Attention. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • 2010. Structuring the Lexicon: a Clustered Model for Near-Synonymy. Berlin: De Gruyter. [Cognitive Linguistics Research 43].

Edited volumes and special issues

  • 2017. Each venture a new beginning: studies in honour of Laura A. Janda.Bloomington, IN: Slavica Publishers. (together with Anastasia Makarova and Stephen Dickey)
  • 2016. Cognitive Linguistics: Looking back, looking forward. Special Issue of Cognitive Linguistics 27(4). (together with Natalia Levshina and Jane Klavan).
  • 2015. Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics. Berlin: De Gruyter. [HSK] (together with Ewa Dąbrowska)
  • 2012. Frequency effects in language learning and processing. Volume 1. Berlin: De Gruyter. [Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs. 244.1] (together with Stefan Gries)
  • 2012. Frequency effects in language representation. Volume 2. Berlin: De Gruyter. [Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs. 244.2] (together with Stefan Gries) 
  • 2007. Cognitive Paths into the Slavic Domain. Berlin: De Gruyter. [Cognitive Linguistics Research 38]. (together with Agata Kochańska)

Chapters – in Print

·        DIVJAK, D. 2018. Binding Scale Dynamics: Fact or Fiction? In: Daniel Van Olmen, Tanja Mortelmans & Frank Brisard (eds.), Aspects of Linguistic Variation and your chapter Binding scale dynamics: Fact or fiction? De Gruyter: Berlin, 9-42. [Trends in Linguistics - Studies and Monographs 324] Open access on

·        LYASHEVSKAYA, O., M. OVSJANNIKOVA, N. SZYMOR & D. DIVJAK. 2018. Looking for contextual cues to differentiate modal meanings: a corpus-based study. In:Quantitative Approaches to the Russian language, edited by Mikhail Kopotev, Olga Lyashevskaya and Arto Mustajoki. Routledge, 51-78. [New Developments in the Quantitative Study of Languages].

·        BAAYEN, R. H. & D. DIVJAK. 2017. Ordinal GAMMs: a new window on human ratings. In: Each venture, a new beginning, edited by A. Makarova, S. Dickey & D. Divjak. Bloomington, IN: Slavica Publishers. 39-56.

·        DIVJAK, D., A. ARPPE & H. BAAYEN. 2016. Does language-as-used fit a self-paced reading paradigm? (The answer may well depend on the statistical model you use).Slavic Languages in the Black Box, edited by Anja Gattnar, Tanja Anstatt and Christina Clasmeier. Tübingen: narr-Verlag, 52-82.

·        DIVJAK, D. 2015. Four challenges for usage-based linguistics. In: Daems, Jocelyne, Eline Zenner, Kris Heylen, Dirk Speelman and Hubert Cuyckens (Eds.).  Change of Paradigms: New Paradoxes. Recontextualizing Language and Linguistics, 297-309. Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter.

·        DIVJAK, D. & C. CALDWELL-HARRIS. 2015. Frequency and entrenchment. In Ewa Dabrowska & Dagmar Divjak. Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics, 53-75. De Gruyter-Mouton. [HSK]

·        DIVJAK, D. 2015. Исследование грамматики восприятия (на материале русского языка). А. А. Кибрик, А. Д. Кошелев, А. В. Кравченко, Ю. В. Мазурова (eds.). Язык и мысль: современная когнитивная лингвистика, 448-477 [Russiantranslation of Divjak 2015, #36 below]

·        JANDA, L.A. & D. DIVJAK. 2015. The role of non-canonical subjects in the overall grammar of a language: a case study of Russian. To appear in Cognitive and interactional perspectives on non-canonical subjects edited by Marja-Liisa Helasvuo and Tuomas Huumo. Constructional Approaches to Language. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. [50-50 split]

·        DIVJAK, D. & N. FIELLER. 2014. Cluster Analysis. Finding structure in linguistic data. Solicited for inclusion in D. Glynn & J. Robinson (eds). Corpus Methods for Semantics. Quantitative studies in polysemy and synonymy, 405-441Amsterdam:John Benjamins [HCP 43]

·        DIVJAK, D. 2011. Predicting aspectual choice in modal constructions. A quest for the Holy Grail? In Slavic Linguistics in a Cognitive framework, edited by Marcin Grygiel and Laura Janda. Berlin: Peter Lang. 67-85 (Applications of Cognitive Linguistics Research)

·        DIVJAK, D. 2010. Corpus-based evidence for an idiosyncratic aspect-modality interaction in Russian. Quantitative Methods in Cognitive Semantics: Corpus-driven Approaches, edited by Dylan Glynn and Kerstin Fisher. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. (Cognitive Linguistics Research 46)

·        GRIES, St. Th. & D. DIVJAK. 2010. Quantitative approaches in usage-based cognitive semantics: myths, erroneous assumptions, and a proposal. Quantitative Methods in Cognitive Semantics: Corpus-driven Approaches, edited by Dylan Glynn and Kerstin Fisher. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. (Cognitive Linguistics Research 46) 

·         M. KOPTJEVSKAJA, D. DIVJAK & K. RAKHILINA. 2010. Aquamotion Verbs in Slavic and Germanic: a Case Study in Lexical Typology. In Driagina-Hasko, Viktoria and Renee Perelmutter (eds). New Approaches to Slavic verbs of motion. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 315-341.

·         GRIES, St. Th. & D. DIVJAK. 2009. Behavioral profiles: a corpus-based approach to cognitive semantic analysis. In: EVANS, V. and S. POURCEL (eds.). New directions in Cognitive Linguistics. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 57-75.

·         DIVJAK, D. & St. Th. GRIES. 2009. Corpus-based cognitive semantics. A contrastive study of phasal verbs in English and Russian. In: Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk, Barbara and Katarzyna Dziwirek (eds.). Studies in Cognitive Corpus Linguistics. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 273-296. [Lodz Studies in Language] 

·         DIVJAK, D. 2008. On (in)frequency and (un)acceptability. In: Barbara Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk (ed.). Corpus Linguistics, Computer Tools and Applications - state of the art. Frankfurt a. Main: Peter Lang, 213-233. [Lodz Studies in Language]

·         DIVJAK, D., A. KOCHAŃSKA & L.A. JANDA. 2007. Why Cognitive Linguists Should Care About the Slavic Languages And Vice Versa. In: DIVJAK, D. & A. KOCHAŃSKA. (eds.) Cognitive Paths into the Slavic Domain. Berlin – New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 1-19. [Cognitive Linguistics Research].

·         DIVJAK, D. 2007. Degrees of Verb Integration. A Binding Scale for [VV] Structures in Russian. In: DIVJAK, D. & A. KOCHAŃSKA (eds.) Cognitive Paths into the Slavic Domain. Mouton de Gruyter: Berlin-New York, 221-256. [Cognitive Linguistics Research].

·         DIVJAK, D. & LEMMENS, M. 2007. Lexical Conflation Patterns in Dutch Aquamotion Verbs. In: MAJSAK, T. & RACHILINA, E.V. (eds.) A Typology of Aquamotion Verbs. Moskva: Indrik, 152-174. 

·         DIVJAK, D. 2006. Ways of Intending: Delineating and Structuring Near-Synonyms. In: GRIES, ST. & STEFANOWITSCH, A. (eds.) Corpora in cognitive linguistics. Corpus-based Approaches to Syntax and Lexis. Berlin-New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 19-56. [Trends in Linguistics]

·         DIVJAK, D. 2006. Bewegen in water. Een geval voor lexicon of grammatica? [Moving through water: a case of lexicon or grammar?] In: WAEGEMANS, E. (ed.). De Taal van Peter. Russisch-Nederlandse contrasten [Peter’s Language: Russian-Dutch Contrasts], 55-67. Leuven: Acco.

·         DIVJAK, D. 2003. Слова о словах. К вопросу о неточных синонимах «умудриться», «ухитриться», «исхитриться» и «изловчиться. [Words on Words. The Case of Four Near Synonyms] In: SOLDATJENKOVA, T., WAEGEMANS, E. For East is East. Liber Amicorum Wojciech Skalmowski. Leuven-Paris: Peeters, 345-365. [Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta].

Refereed Journals – in Print

  • MILIN, P., D. DIVJAK & H. BAAYEN. 2017. A learning perspective on individual differences in skilled reading: Exploring and exploiting orthographic and semantic discrimination cues. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition 43 (11): 1730-1751.

·        DIVJAK, D., S. SHAROFF & T. ERJAVEC. 2017. Slavic Computational and Corpus Linguistics. Journal of Slavic Linguistics 25 (2): 171-199.

·        DIVJAK, D. 2017. The role of lexical frequency in the acceptability of syntactic variants: evidence from that-clauses in Polish. Cognitive Science 41(2): 354-382.

·        KLAVAN, J. & D. DIVJAK. 2016. The Cognitive Plausibility of Statistical Classification Models: Comparing Textual and Behavioral Evidence. Folia Linguistica 50 (2): 355-384. 

·        DIVJAK, D., N. LEVSHINA & J. KLAVAN. 2016. Cognitive Linguistics: Looking back, looking forward. Cognitive Linguistics 27(4): 447-463. 

·        MILIN, P., D. DIVJAK, S. DIMITRIJEVIC & H. BAAYEN. 2016. Towards cognitively plausible data science in language research. Cognitive Linguistics 27(4): 507-526. 

·        DIVJAK, D., A. ARPPE & E. DĄBROWSKA. 2016. Machine meets man: evaluating the psychological reality of corpus-based probabilistic models. Cognitive Linguistics27(1): 1- 34. 

·        DIVJAK, D., N. SZYMOR, A. SOCHA-MICHALIK. 2015. Less is more: possibility and necessity as centres of gravity in a usage-based classification of core modals in Polish. Russian Linguistics. International Journal for the Study of Russian and other Slavic Languages 39 (3): 327-349.

·        DIVJAK, D. 2015. Exploring the grammar of perception. A case study using data from Russian. Functions of Language 22 (1): 44-68. 

·        DIVJAK, D. & A. ARPPE. 2013. Extracting prototypes from exemplars. What can corpus data tell us about concept representation? Cognitive Linguistics 24 (2): 221-274. 

·        DIVJAK, D. 2009. Mapping between domains. The aspect-modality interaction in Russian. Russian Linguistics 33 (3): 249-269

·        DIVJAK, D. & St. Th. GRIES. 2008. Clusters in the Mind? Converging evidence from near-synonymy in Russian. The Mental Lexicon, 3 (2): 188-213. 

·        DIVJAK, D. & L. A. JANDA. 2008. Ways of Attenuating Agency in Russian. In: Siewierska, Anna (ed.). Impersonal Constructions in Grammatical Theory. A special issue of Transactions of the Philological Society, 106 (2): 1-40. 

·        DIVJAK, D. & GRIES, St. Th. 2006. Ways of Trying in Russian. Clustering Behavioral Profiles. In: Journal of Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory 2 (1): 23-60. 

·         SMESSAERT, H., CORNILLIE, B., DIVJAK D., EYNDE K. van den. 2005. Degrees of clause integration. From endotactic to exotactic subordination in Dutch. In:Linguistics. An Interdisciplinary Journal of the Language Sciences 43 (3): 471-530.

·         DIVJAK, D. 2003. On trying in Russian: a tentative network model for near(er) synonyms. In: “Belgian Contributions to the 13th International Congress of Slavicists, Ljubljana, 15-21 August 2003”. Special Issue of Slavica Gandensia 30: 25-58. 

·         DIVJAK, D. 2001. On the Expression of 'Purpose' in Russian: Augmented Teleonomic versus Čtoby-Constructions. In: Slavica Gandensia 28: 21-49.

·         DIVJAK, D. 2001. Parasceve iunior Epibatis: een leven in beelden [Parasceve iunior Epibatis: a life portrayed]. In: The Journal of Eastern Christian Studies 53 (3/4): 155-199.

·         DIVJAK, D. 1999. Parasceve iunior Epibatis: portret van een Balkanheilige [Parasceve iunior Epibatis: portrait of a Balkan Saint]. In: Oost-Europa Tijdingen 21 (37): 19-41

Refereed Conference Papers – in Print

·        DIVJAK, D. & A. ARPPE. 2010. Extracting prototypes from corpus data: A distributional account of representing near synonymous verbs. Proceedings of Verb 2010. Interdisciplinary Workshop on Verbs: The Identification and Representation of Verb Features. Pisa (Italy), 4-5 November 2010. 

·        SHAROFF, S. & KOPOTEV, M. & ERJAVEC, T. & FELDMAN, A. & DIVJAK, D. 2008. Designing and Evaluating a Russian Tagset. Proceedings of LREC 2008, Marrakech (Morocco), May 26-June 1, 2008 [available as electronic version only:].

  • DIVJAK, D. 2008. Modeling aspectual choice in Polish modal constructions. A corpus-based quest for the holy grail? In: ARPPE, A., K. SINNEMÄKI, and U. NIKANNE (eds.).Third Workshop on Quantitative Investigations in Theoretical Linguistics (QITL3) held 2-4 June 2008 in Helsinki, Finland), 21-24. [available as electronic version only:]

·         DIVJAK, D. 2003. An implementable view on Russian modificators. In: KOSTA, P., BLASZCZAK, J., FRASEK, J., GEIST L., ZYGIS, M. Investigations into Formal Slavic Linguistics.Contributions of the Fourth European Conference on the Formal Description of Slavic Languages (FDSL IV held at Potsdam University November 28.-30.11.2001), 815-830. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. [Linguistik International].

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