Florent Perek

PhD in English and General Linguistics
Lecturer in Cognitive Linguistics, University of Birmingham

Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics
Room 102, 3 Elms Road
University of Birmingham, Edgbaston
Birmingham B15 2TT, UK

+44 (0)121 414 3625

About me

I am a cognitive linguist, a quantitative corpus linguist, and a construction grammarian. My main research interests lie in the study of grammar from a cognitive and corpus linguistic perspective. I focus in particular on how syntactic constructions are mentally represented, how they are learned, and how they change over time.

I hold a PhD in English Linguistics from the University of Freiburg, Germany, under a co-tutelle (French joint PhD program) with the University of Lille, France. I have occupied postdoc positions in Basel, Switzerland, and Princeton, USA. I am now a Lecturer at the Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics at the University of Birmingham, UK.


13 August 2017 A brand new version of my website goes online today. I hope you like the new design!
4 August 2017 Following the success of the Corpus Linguistics Summer School 2017, I am pleased to announce that we will be organising the third edition of this event at the University of Birmingham next year, from 25 to 29 June 2018. More information will be added to this webpage as it becomes available: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/corpus/events/2018/summer-school-2018.aspx
21 July 2017 The Corpus Linguistics Summer School I convened this week (http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/corpus/events/2017/summer-school-2017.aspx) is now done and dusted. Many thanks to all participants and to the speakers!



Articles in international peer-reviewed journals

  • Perek, F. & Hilpert, M. (to appear). A distributional semantic approach to the periodization of change in the productivity of constructions. To appear in International Journal of Corpus Linguistics. (ms)
  • Perek, F. & Goldberg, A. (2017). Linguistic generalization on the basis of function and constraints on the basis of statistical preemption. Cognition 168: 276-293. (ms)
  • Perek, F. (2016). Recent change in the productivity and schematicity of the way-construction: a distributional semantic analysis. Corpus Linguistic and Linguistic Theory, DOI: 10.1515/cllt-2016-0014 (published online ahead of print). (ms)
  • Perek, F. (2016). Using distributional semantics to study syntactic productivity in diachrony: A case study. Linguistics 54(1): 149–188. (ms)
  • Hilpert, M. & Perek, F. (2015). Meaning change in a petri dish: Constructions, semantic vector spaces, and motion charts. Linguistics Vanguard. DOI: 10.1515/lingvan-2015-0013
  • Perek, F. & Goldberg, A. (2015). Generalizing beyond the input: the functions of the constructions matter. Journal of Memory and Language 84: 108-127. (ms, online access)
  • Perek, F. & Hilpert, M. (2014). Constructional tolerance: Cross-linguistic differences in the acceptability of non-conventional uses of constructions. Construction and Frames 6.2: 266–304. (uncorrected proofs)
  • Perek, F. (2012). Alternation-based generalizations are stored in the mental grammar: evidence from a sorting task experiment. Cognitive Linguistics 23.3: 601–635. (uncorrected proofs, online access)
  • Perek, F. & Lemmens, M. (2010). Getting at the meaning of the English at-construction: the case of a constructional split. CogniTextes 5, online as of October 31st 2010. URL: http://cognitextes.revues.org/331

Articles in collective volumes and conference proceedings

  • Goldberg, A. & Perek, F. (to appear). Ellipsis Constructions. In: van Craenenbroeck, J. & T. Temmerman (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Ellipsis. Oxford University Press.
  • Perek, F. & Goldberg, A. (2014). Konstruktionsgrammatik ("Construction grammar"). Dürscheid, C. and S. Schierholz (eds.), Wörterbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft (WSK), Band 1: Grammatik (Dictionaries of Linguistics and Communication Science, Volume 1: Grammar). Walter de Gruyter.
  • Perek, F. (2014). Vector spaces for historical linguistics: Using distributional semantics to study syntactic productivity in diachrony. In Proceedings of the 52nd Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Baltimore, Maryland USA, June 23-25 2014 (pp. 309-314). (pdf)
  • Perek, F. (2014). Rethinking constructional polysemy: the case of the English conative construction. In Glynn, D. & J. Robinson, Corpus Methods for Semantics. Quantitative studies in polysemy and synonymy (pp. 61-85). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. (uncorrected proofs)
  • Perek, F. (2010). Identification de constructions grammaticales en corpus : une approche quantitative de l’augmentation de valence. In Cappeau, P., H. Chuquet & F. Valetopoulos (éds.), L'Exemple et le corpus: quel statut?, Travaux Linguistiques du CerLiCO 23 (pp. 165-180). Presses Universitaires de Rennes. (ms)

Unpublished work

  • Perek, F. (2012). Verbs, constructions, alternations: Usage-based perspectives on argument realization. PhD dissertation. Albert-Ludwigs Universität & Université Charles de Gaulle Lille III. Available upon request. (summary, slides)
  • Perek, F. (2010). Second-order symbols (or how to make derivations in construction grammar). Manuscript available upon request.
  • Perek, F. (2008). Towards a constructional approach to automatic argument structure acquisition: the case of oblique phrases. Unpublished Master's thesis, University of Lille III, France (pdf)
  • Perek, F. (2007). Une étude du couple question-réponse dans le cadre de la SDRT. Mini-mémoire de Master 1, University of Lille III, France (pdf)

Book reviews

Conference presentations

Upcoming Productivity and schematicity in constructional change. 50th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea, Zurich, 10-13 September 2017.
2017 Generalizations are driven by semantics and constrained by statistical preemption: New evidence from artificial language experiments (with Adele Goldberg). ICLC 14, Tartuu, Estonia, 11 July 2017.
The role of metaphors in the recent history of the way-construction. AFLiCo 7, Liège, Belgium, 1 June 2017.
Periodization of constructional productivity in diachronic corpora. ICAME 38, Prague, 26 May 2017.
2016 A distributional semantic approach to the identification of stages in constructional productivity change. UK-CLC 6, Bangor, UK, July 2016. (slides, abstract)
Productivity and schematicity of the way-construction in Late Modern English. Workshop "Historische Konstruktionsgrammatik: Konvergenzen und Divergenzen im Sprach- und Konstruktionswandel" (Diachronic Construction Grammar: Convergence and divergence in language and constructional change), Düsseldorf, Germany, February 17 - 18 2016. (abstract, slides)
2015Plotting our way through the data: The way-construction revisited. AFLiCo 6, Grenoble, France, May 27 - 29 2015. (abstract)
(with Dagmar Divjak and Lily FitzGibbon) Do pattern detection abilities facilitate processing? Evidence from naturalistic self-paced reading. ICLC 13, Newcastle, UK, July 20-25 2015.
Distributional semantic plots: A data-driven approach to recent change in syntactic productivity. SWELL 2015, Geneva, Switzerland, March 20. (slides)
2014 (with Adele Goldberg) The interaction of usage and function in the emergence of constructions. Workshop "Vision and Language", Bielefeld, Allemagne, December 8-9 2014. (abstract, slides)
(with Adele Goldberg) Construction learning relies on usage and function: An artificial language learning study. DGKL 6, Erlangen, Germany, September 29 - October 3 2014. (abstract, slides)
Vector spaces for historical linguistics. ACL 2014, Baltimore, USA, June 23-25 2014. (paper, slides)
Vector-space semantic maps: A data-driven approach to the study of syntactic productivity in diachrony. GURT 2014, Georgetown University, USA. (abstract, slides)
2013 (with Catherine Diederich) Data-Mining und Visualisierung zur Erfassung der semantischen Entwicklung von Konstruktionen. Poster presented at the Digital Humanities conference of the SAGW ("Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences"), November 28-29 2013. (pdf)
Using vector-space models to visualize the semantic distribution of argument structure constructions. Workshop "Muster und Bedeutung" ("Pattern and meaning"), Institut für Deutsche Sprache, Mannheim, Germany. (abstract, slides)
Statistics for corpus linguistics. Training workshop at the University of Basel, Switzerland, Italian Department.
The usage basis of verb valency: Evidence from a language comprehension experiment. AFLiCo V, Lille, France. (abstract, slides)
Cross-constructional determinants of syntactic productivity: Experiments with argument structure alternations. SWELL 2013, Zurich, Switzerland. (slides)
2012 Productivity asymmetries in argument structure alternations. Conference "New Ways of Analyzing Syntactic Variation", Nijmegen, Holland. (abstract, slides)
(with Martin Hilpert). Testing constructional tolerance. DGKL 5, Freiburg. (slides)
The asymmetry of argument structure alternations: A productivity experiment. UK-CLC 4, July 10th-12th, King's College, London, UK. (slides)
(with Martin Hilpert) Are argument structure constructions equally powerful across languages? Workshop "Constructions across grammars", June 18th-19th, FRIAS, Freiburg, Germany.
2011 Rethinking grammatical meaning and its relation to lexical usage. 4th Annual EUCOR English Trinational Colloquium for PhD students, December 9th, Strasbourg, France. (slides)
The status of alternations in construction grammar: evidence from a sorting task experiment. AFLiCo IV, May 24th-27th, Lyon, France (abstract, slides)
2010 Alternations in constructional models of argument structure: towards an integrated approach. Invited talk at the workshop "The Fine Structure of Grammatical Relations" organized by the research group "Grammar and Processing of Verbal Arguments" at Leipzig University, December 10th-11th, Leipzig, Germany (slides)
Corpus-based evidence for a lexical account of the English conative construction. DGKL 4, October 7th-9th, Bremen, Germany (abstract, slides)
Reappraising the role of alternations in construction grammar: the case of the conative construction. UK-CLC 3, July 6th-8th, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK (abstract, slides, handout)
Poster “Alternations vs. constructions: a false dichotomy?” presented at the inauguration of the Graduate School “Frequenzeffekte in der Sprache”, July 1st, Freiburg, Germany (pdf)
Beyond lexical explanations of argument structure semantics. Doctoriales de linguistique, 50e congrès SAES, May 21st-23rd, Lille, France (abstract, slides)
2009 Distributional characterization of constructional meaning. Corpus Linguistics 2009, July 20th-23rd, Liverpool (abstract, slides)
(with Maarten Lemmens) Item-based generalizations and argument structure acquisition: some relevant corpus findings. AFLiCo 3, Nanterre, France (abstract, slides)
Identification de constructions grammaticales en corpus: le cas des Constructions Argumentales. CerLiCO 23, June 4th-6th, Poitiers, France (abstract, slides)


My full CV in PDF format can be downloaded here (last update August 2017).


  • Born July 5th 1983 in Saint-Saulve, France.
  • Currently living in Birmingham, United Kingdom.
  • Nationality: French


  • 2012: Ph.D. in English Linguistics at the University of Freiburg (Germany), under a co-tutelle with the University of Lille 3 (France), supervised by Martin Hilpert (Freiburg) and Maarten Lemmens (Lille), summa cum laude. Topic: Verbs, Constructions, Alternations: Usage-based perspectives on argument realization. (project summary here)
  • 2008: M.A. in Linguistics, University of Lille III, France. summa cum laude.
  • 2007: Maîtrise (first year of M.A.) in Natural Language Processing ("Traitement Automatique du Langage"), University of Lille III, France. summa cum laude.
  • 2006: Engineer's degree at the Institut de Génie Informatique et Industriel (IG2I; Institute of Computer Technology and Industrial Engineering) in Lens, France, a division of the Ecole Centrale de Lille. Specialization: software engineering, passed with honors ("félicitations").

Academic positions

  • Since April 2016: Lecturer in Cognitive Linguistics at the University of Birmingham, Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics.
  • 2013 - 2016: Postdoctoral Teaching and Research Fellow in English Linguistics at the English department of the University of Basel, Switzerland (on unpaid leave from August 2013 to July 2014).
  • August 2013 - August 2014: Postdoctoral researcher at Princeton University (USA), Department of Psychology, under a postdoc scholarship granted by the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service).
  • 2008 - 2012: scientific collaborator (wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies, School of Language of Literature, Freiburg, Germany.


  • Editor for the journal CogniTextes. I also supervise the technical aspects of our web platform and am in charge of putting the contributions online.
  • Board member of the AFLiCo (French Association for Cognitive Linguistics).
  • Webmaster of the AFLiCo website. I designed the current version of the website.
  • Member of the DGKL (German Association for Cognitive Linguistics).
  • Former associate member of the DFG-funded graduate school "Frequency effects in language" (Graduiertenkolleg DFG GRK 1624 "Frequenzeffekte in der Sprache")
  • Affiliated postdoc and PhD alumnus of the Hermann Paul School of Linguistics (HPSL).


  • French (native)
  • English (near-native)
  • German (fluent)
  • Italian, Polish (basic knowledge)