Dirk Geeraerts

Dirk Geeraerts (born 24 October 1955, PhD 1981) holds the chair of theoretical linguistics at the University of Leuven, Belgium. He is the founder of the research unit Quantitative Lexicology and Variational Linguistics (QLVL).

His main research interests involve the overlapping fields of lexical semantics, lexicology, and lexicography, with a theoretical focus on cognitive semantics. His publications include the following monographs:

  • Paradigm and Paradox (1985)
  • Woordbetekenis (1986) (in Dutch)
  • Wat er in een Woord Zit (1989) (in Dutch)
  • The Structure of Lexical Variation (1994)
  • Diachronic Prototype Semantics (1997)
  • Convergentie en Divergentie in de Nederlandse Woordenschat (2000) (in Dutch)
  • Words and Other Wonders. Papers on Lexical and Semantic Topics (2006)
  • Theories of Lexical Semantics (2010)

His involvement with cognitive linguistics dates from the 1980s, when in his PhD thesis he was one of the first in Europe to explore the possibilities of a prototype-theoretical model of categorization. As the founder of the journal Cognitive Linguistics and as the editor (with Hubert Cuyckens) of the Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics, he played an instrumental role in the international expansion of cognitive linguistics.

Geeraerts is one of the outspoken advocates of the implementation of empirical methodologies, such as corpus linguistics in cognitive linguistic research and also argues for the involvement of more pragmatic elements such as contextual factors that influence the construal of word meanings and the choice of 'names' for concepts and the historical implications these have in relation to etymology and lexicology.