Vacancies

We are currently hiring four full-time doctoral fellows for the period of four years and one half-time postdoc for three years.

In the near future, the team will be completed by three additional members. On the whole, the project will be executed by a consortium of nine Principal Investigators and seven additional team members who will collaborate in a tight interdisciplinary fashion.

One postdoc (50%) for 3 years

Degree requirements: PhD in (corpus) Linguistics

The ideal candidate is expected to have a solid background in corpus linguistics and a strong knowledge of quantitative methods. We are looking for an independent researcher with management / coordination skills, who is able to share his/her knowledge with PhD students within a large interdisciplinary consortium. The candidate must have excellent knowledge of English. More information about this position can be found here.

Ghent University offers a three-year half-time contract starting on 1 October 2019. The candidate will be employed as a member of the research staff (with regular health insurance, etc.). Information about salary and employee benefits for incoming international staff can be found on the website of Ghent University:

 

Four Phd students

Degree requirements: Master of (historical) linguistics (or an equivalent degree).

More specifically, we seek PhD candidates who have excellent knowledge of the following languages:

PhD 1 : Spanish, for a (diachronic) PhD on auxiliary verb constructions

PhD 2 : French and Dutch, for a PhD on intensifying constructions for negation

PhD 3 : English, Dutch and French/Spanish (one of those two), for a PhD on anti-causative constructions

PhD 4 : Icelandic, German (near-native competence in one of those two) and Dutch, for a PhD on the alternation between Dat-Nom and Nom-Dat constructions

In addition, all candidates should have excellent knowledge of English.

The candidates are expected to have a great interest in linguistic research, as evidenced by a Masters Thesis in the area of linguistics with a focus on (at least) one of the languages mentioned above. Experience in corpus linguistics and some familiarity with quantitative methods are certainly a plus. Since the successful candidates will be working in a team on a common topic, team-playership and collaborative skills are particularly sought for.

Ghent University offers a four-year contract starting on 1 October 2019. During this time, a PhD dissertation has to be completed. Successful candidates will be employed as research staff member (with regular health insurance, etc.). Information about salary and employee benefits for incoming international staff can be found on the website of Ghent University:

 

How to apply ?

The deadline for applications is 8 May 2019. Applications should be submitted to languageproductivity@ugent.be and should consist of: a detailed CV, including degree grades and title of Master Thesis (and PhD Thesis for the postdoc), and a letter of motivation in English. Please mention PhD1, PhD2, PhD3, PhD4 or postdoc in the subject field.

Contact one of the project supervisors for more information:

Postdoc : peter.lauwers@ugent.be

PhD1 : renata.enghels@ugent.be

PhD2 : peter.lauwers@ugent.be

PhD3: miriam.taverniers@ugent.be

PhD4: Johanna.barddal@ugent.be

Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed on the 22nd of May or on the 3rd of June. Those who will be interviewed on May 22nd will be notified by the 15th of May at the latest. Those who will be interviewed on June 3rd, will be notified later.

 

Detailed project description (PhDs and postdoc)

Postdoc (50 %)

The postdoc – together with a second postdoc in psycho-/neurolinguistics who will be recruited in 2020 – will keep an eye on the overall coherence of the research activities of each of the PhD students (also as a member of their doctoral guidance committee) and warrant the circulation of common manoeuvres and methods (especially corpus and statistical tools) within the consortium, in close interaction with the promoters. More specifically, (s)he will supervise the (identical) methodological (a.o. statis­tical) operationalization, will discuss smaller operational issues and prepare the monthly meetings of the consortium. (S)he will publish together with the PhDs, focusing more specifically on the application of vector space semantics (word embeddings) to filler spectra in order to come to a better understanding of the semantic aspects of syntactic productivity. As to vector space semantics, training and advice will be offered to the Postdoc during the project.

 

PhD 1

The first PhD deals with a new paradigm of inchoative auxiliaries in Spanish: Rompió a llorar (lit. ‘he broke to cry’). ). Inchoative constructions express the onset of an event, and consist of four slots: a subject, an auxiliary verb, a preposition, and an infinitive. As opposed to other Romance languages, the yet understudied construction has become strikingly productive in Spanish, where a wide gamut of verb classes fills the auxiliary verb slot, for instance: change of state verbs (e.g. romper), motion verbs (Se echó a reír, lit. ‘she threw herself to laugh’) or put verbs (Se mete a escribir, lit. ‘she puts herself to write’). A second source of productivity relates to the infinitive slot. We will track the historical development of the filler classes in both slots, and their interactions, against the background of the constructionalization of a more abstract inchoative pattern, and examine the parameters that determine the competition between the auxiliary verbs.

PhD 2 

Minimizing constructions reinforce sentence negation. Such constructions typically contain noun-fillers originally referring to small objects or values, most often joined to negative elements such as Fr. (ne) … pas, Du. geen, and which combine with a limited set of verb fillers. Such constructions come in various variants, with indefinite singulars (Fr. Je n’y comprends pas un iota ‘I don’t understand not one iota’; Du. dat interesseert hem geen bal ‘That does not interest him a ball’), bare nouns such as jack shit, etc. Other constructions involve generalizing PPs such as au monde ‘in the world’ or even que + N (Je n’entrave que dalle ‘I don’t understand COMP dalle’). As intensifiers, they belong to one of the richest sources of language creativity and they are an important stage in Jespersen’s cycle through which languages renew their negative particles by further decategorializing nouns (for Old- and Middle French, e.g. Möhren 1980; Mosegaard-Hansen & Visconti 2009). Belgian Dutch (for Netherlandic Dutch, see i.a. Hoeksema 2009) and French data will be investigated, against the background of typological differences related to negation in general, taken from the literature on double negation and negative concord, negative polarity items and Jespersen’s cycle (cf. e.g. Giannakidou 2005).

PhD 3 

The anticausative construction construes an event as happening ‘semi-autonomously’ (The door opened), in contrast to caused events (John opened the door). Each language has a set of possible strategies to express anticausative vs. caused events. English is noted for its frequent use of P-labile verbs (McMillion 2006), i.e. verbs that allow for both intransitive and transitive construals of an event in which the Patient, e.g. the chocolate, is either the first or second argument: The chocolate melted vs. We melted the chocolate. By contrast, Romance languages make use of a reflexive pattern (Fr. La porte s’ouvrait ‘The door opened-refl’ vs. Jean ouvrait la porte ‘Jean opened the door’) (Dobrovie-Sorin 2006). Another competing pattern is a periphrastic one, in which the alternation holds between a copula (Du. De deur ging open ‘The door went open’) vs. a caused resultative (Du. Jan deed de deur open ‘Jan did/made the door open’). Productivity will here be addressed at the level of competing constructions. Germanic vs. Romance strategies will be investigated against the background of typological differences in relation to alignment (ergativity vs. transitivity/ accusativity — Halliday 1967) and the encoding of resultativeness/ change-of-state meanings. English will be taken as a starting point, to be compared with Dutch and French.

 

PhD 4 (deadline extended until May 31st)

This alternating Dat-Nom/Nom-Dat construction shows variation in terms of word order, i.e. between the dative and the nominative occurring pre- or postverbally, with both word orders being equally neutral:

(1a) Mir gefällt das Buch gut
(German)
(1b) Mér fellur þessi bók vel í geð (Icelandic)
‘I like this book’
(2a) Das Buch gefällt mir gut
(German)
(2b) Þessi bók fellur mér vel í geð (Icelandic)
‘This book pleases me’
(3a) Me dunkt dat (Dutch)
(3b) Dat dunkt me (Dutch)

This type of alternation is restricted to particular semantic verb classes (cf. Barðdal 2001a). Alternations of this type are documented at different times in the individual languages and it is hypothesized that those onset times and the further evolution of the pattern depend on changing productivity values of host verbs. We will zoom in on (i) changing productivity of language cognates and (ii) differences in word order between Dat-Nom and Nom-Dat constructions. Three Germanic languages will be studied: Icelandic, German and Dutch, which are three of four Germanic languages where the construction still exists (with Faroese being the fourth). The construction is most profound in Icelandic and German (Barðdal, Eythórsson & Dewey 2014), although its scope in Dutch remains to be investigated.