The Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication at the University of Amsterdam currently has a vacant PhD position as part of the NWO-funded project Exceptions rule! Lexical restriction on grammatical structure led by Dr Eva van Lier.
Applications are now invited from excellent candidates who wish to conduct research on cross-linguistic diversity in the grammatical behaviour of alternating verbs.
According to usage-based linguistic theory, verb-argument constructions are not formed by abstract rules operating on the entire verbal lexicon, but rather emerge from speakers’ experience with specific verbs in communicative context. However, in linguistic typology verb-specific grammatical structures have often, until recently, been treated as exceptions.
Psycholinguistic experiments confirm that language users have highly verb-specific grammatical knowledge, but these experiments assess only a few constructions in mostly Germanic languages.
In this project, the focus will be on alternating verbs, which require speakers to choose between multiple argument-coding frames. The PhD candidate will carry out detailed analyses of alternating verbs in a range of genetically and areally diverse languages, to be selected on the basis of existing literature and availability of sources (grammars/dictionaries, corpora, specialists, native speakers). For each language s/he will study the frequency of specific verbs and associated argument-coding frames, the size and composition of verbal sub-classes, and factor determining choice of coding frame. The resulting cross-linguistic database will be mined to detect cross-linguistic clustering of verbs and constructions, as well genetic/areal/structural effects.
The PhD project is integrated into a larger project, which aims to show the relevance of verb-specific grammatical knowledge in a wide variety of languages. The candidate will work in a team with the PI, a post-doc specializing in experimental research, and various specialists on specific languages.
- collecting, analysing, and interpreting cross-linguistic data on alternating verbs, including corpus-data;
- creating and maintaining an open access typological database;
- completing and defending a PhD thesis within four years;
- regular presentations of intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;
- publication of peer-reviewed articles;
- collaboration in research team;
- co-organization of expert meetings;
- teaching in year 2 and 3 of the PhD project (max. 0,2 fte);
- participation in the training program of the research school.
Further information on the requirements, terms of employment and application process can be found here.