Florent Perek

PhD in English and General Linguistics

Associate Professor in Cognitive Linguistics (Senior Lecturer)

University of Birmingham

Department of English Language and Linguistics
University of Birmingham, Edgbaston
Birmingham B15 2TT, UK

+44 (0)121 414 3625

Last update 4 November 2023

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 an Associate Professor (=Senior Lecturer) at the Department of English Language and Linguistics at the University of Birmingham, UK.



Online resources

Articles in international peer-reviewed journals

  • Hilpert, M. & Perek, F. (2022). You don't get to see that every day: On the development of permissive get. Constructions and Frames 14(1), 13–40.
  • Busso, L., Perek, F. & Lenci, A. (2021). Constructional associations trump lexical associations in processing valency coercion. Cognitive Linguistics, published online ahead of print. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2020-0050.
  • Perek, F. (2020). Construction Grammar in action: the English Constructicon project (online lecture). CogniTextes 21. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/cognitextes.2008.
  • Busso, L., Lenci, A., & Perek, F. (2020). Valency coercion in Italian: An exploratory study. Constructions and Frames, 12(2), 171–205.
  • Perek, F. & Patten, A. (2019). Towards an English Constructicon using patterns and frames. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 24(3), 354–384.
  • Perek, F. (2018). Recent change in the productivity and schematicity of the way-construction: a distributional semantic analysis. Corpus Linguistic and Linguistic Theory, 14(1), 65-97. DOI: 10.1515/cllt-2016-0014. (ms)
  • Perek, F. & Hilpert, M. (2017). A distributional semantic approach to the periodization of change in the productivity of constructions. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 22(4): 490–520. (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). 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

  • Perek, F. (forthcoming). Behavioural evidence and experimental methods. In Fried, M. & Nikiforidou, K. (Eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Construction Grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Perek, F. (2023). Construction Grammar and Usage-Based Theory. In Díaz-Campos, M. & Balasch, S. (Eds.), The Handbook of Usage‐Based Linguistics (pp. 215-231). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Winter, B. & Perek, F. (2023). Cognitive Linguistics. In Wei, L., Hua, Z. & Simpson, J. (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Applied Linguistics: Volume One (pp. ).
  • Patten, A. & Perek, F. (2022). Pedagogic applications of the English Constructicon. In Boas, H. (Ed.), Pedagogic Construction Grammar: Data, Methods, and Applications (pp. 179-218). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Perek, F. (2020). Productivity and schematicity in constructional change. In Sommerer, L. & Smirnova, E. (Eds.), Nodes and Links in the Network: Advances in Diachronic Construction Grammar (pp. 141-166). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Goldberg, A. & Perek, F. (2018). Ellipsis in Construction Grammar. In: van Craenenbroeck, J. & T. Temmerman (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Ellipsis (pp. 188-204). Oxford University Press. (ms)
  • Perek, F. & Goldberg, A. (2014). Konstruktionsgrammatik ("Construction grammar"). Dürscheid, C. & 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

2023 The productivity of constructions: Meaning rules! (with Adele Goldberg). ICLC-16, Düsseldorf, Germany, 7 ­– 11 August 2023.
Definiteness and verb meaning: Investigating the definiteness profile of English verbs (with Lotte Sommerer). ICLC-16, Düsseldorf, Germany, 7 ­– 11 August 2023.
Building a parallel constructicon: A case study of Judgment_communication constructions in English and German (with Alexander Ziem). ICCG-12, Prague, 19­ – 21 May 2023.
2022 Using a constructicon to study constructional change: A case study of the "Verb + at" pattern. 25th International Conference on Historical Linguistics (ICHL25), Oxford, UK, 1­ – 5 August 2022.
Direct object definiteness and verb meaning: A corpus-based investigation (with Lotte Sommerer). ICAME 43, Cambridge, UK, 27 - 30 July 2022.
Constructions and the company they keep. Keynote talk at the 9th International Conference on Grammar and Corpora, Ghent, Belgium, 30 June - 2 July 2022.
2021 Frames as constructional meanings in constructicon building (with Amanda Patten). ICCG-11, Antwerp, Belgium, 18 - 20 August 2021.
Multi-level constructional representations of syntactic alternations (in workshop "What counts as an alternation in usage-based construction grammar?"). ICCG-11, Antwerp, Belgium, 18 - 20 August 2021.
Building the English Constructicon. TÜLing Linguistics Lectures (online), University of Tartu, Estonia, 25 May 2021.
2020 Construction Grammar in action: the English Constructicon project. AFLiCo Lecture Series 2020 (online), 17 December 2020. Available at https://doi.org/10.4000/cognitextes.2008.
2019 Constructional meaning in the English Constructicon (with Amanda Patten). SLE 2019, Leipzig, Germany, 21 - 24 August 2019.
Describing constructional meaning from patterns and frames. AFLiCo 8, Mulhouse, France, 5 - 7 June 2019.
2018 You don’t get to see that every day: The rise of permissive get in American English (with Martin Hilpert). SLE 2018, Tallinn, Estonia, 29 August - 1 September 2018.
Creating a Constructicon from the COBUILD Grammar Patterns and FrameNet. ICCG-10, Paris, 16 - 20 July 2018. (slides)
On the history of permissive get in American English: New quantitative evidence (with Martin Hilpert). ICAME 39, Tampere, Finland, 30 May - 3 June 2018. (slides)
Big Data, Big Meaning: Using distributional semantics in linguistic research. Invited plenary talk at the symposium "Big Data meets Big Theory", Sheffield, UK, 26 - 27 April 2018. (slides)
Towards a constructicon using patterns and frames (with Amanda Patten). AAAL 2018, Chicago, 25 March 2018.(slides)
2017 Productivity and schematicity in constructional change. 50th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea, Zurich, 10-13 September 2017. (slides)
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. (slides)
The role of metaphors in the recent history of the way-construction. AFLiCo 7, Liège, Belgium, 1 June 2017. (slides)
Periodization of constructional productivity in diachronic corpora. ICAME 38, Prague, 26 May 2017. (slides)
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)



  • 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 August 2021: Associate Professor(Senior Lecturer) in Cognitive Linguistics at the University of Birmingham, Department of English Language and Linguistics.
  • 2016 - 2021: Assistant Professor (Lecturer) in Cognitive Linguistics at the University of Birmingham, Department of English Language and 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.


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