Dissertation: Context and the Lexicon in the Development of Russian Aspect.
A native of New York, I did my B.A. at Yale University. After finishing my doctorate, I hung around at Berkeley for a year teaching courses part-time, and then was a lecturer in Russian language at UCLA for a year. Since 1996, I’ve been at the Department of Russian & Slavonic Studies at the University of Sheffield, England, where they now call me Reader in Czech Language and Linguistics.
Taking up this post at Sheffield pushed me in the direction of Czech, since my brief was to build a Czech program as an adjunct to Russian (which is our “bread and butter”) on both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Since I got here, we’ve introduced a full range of courses in Czech from first- to fourth-year, developed a student exchange program and research links, expanded our offerings in Slavic linguistics, and have started to see a small but steady trickle of graduate students in Russian and Czech linguistics coming through our department. The students are generally good, interested, and motivated, and make the job worthwhile.
Making the move to the UK was not an easy adjustment, but in many ways it’s been a rewarding one. The geographical proximity to the Czech Republic and our developing links as partner EU countries has also been an unexpected plus.
My research interests have gradually shifted over the years from the meaning of categories and forms to their social significance. After rewriting my dissertation and publishing it, my next project was on the use of non-standard forms in Czech literary dialogue, which resulted in a short monograph. Now I’ve just completed a monograph on spelling reform in Czech, and have headed off in a slightly different direction, working on the reflection of morphological variation in the Czech National Corpus as part of a large team project based in Prague. I’m also collaborating with a colleague on an intermediate-level CD-based language-learning package, to be called Interactive Czech.
A selected publication list and other links are our department web page: http://www.shef.ac.uk/russian/staff/profiles/nbermel