LINGUIST List 28.5266

Tue Dec 12 2017

Support: General Linguistics; Sociolinguistics; Syntax: PhD, KU Leuven

Editor for this issue: Clare Harshey <>

Date: 11-Dec-2017
From: Benedikt Szmrecsanyi <>
Subject: General Linguistics; Sociolinguistics; Syntax: PhD, KU Leuven, Belgium
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Department: Department of Lingustics
Web Address:

Level: PhD

Institution/Organization: KU Leuven

Duties: Research,Project Work

Specialty Areas: General Linguistics; Sociolinguistics; Syntax
Register Analysis


The research group Quantitative Lexicology and Variational Linguistics (QLVL) at the Department of Linguistics of the University of Leuven is looking to hire a predoctoral researcher and PhD candidate to staff the FWO-funded project ''The register-specificity of probabilistic grammatical knowledge in English and Dutch'' (PIs: Benedikt Szmrecsanyi, Jason Grafmiller, and Freek Van de Velde).

Probabilistic grammars regulate the way in which we choose between different ways of saying the same thing. For example, in English people can say either ''Tom sent Mary a letter'', or ''Tom sent a letter to Mary''. Both syntactic variants have roughly the same meaning, and we know that variant choice is a function of quantifiable effects of probabilistic factors such as the length of the theme, or the pronominality of the recipient. The question the project is asking is if language users have different probabilistic grammars for different types of speech situations – in other words, do our linguistic choice making processes differ depending on whether we engage in e.g. informal conversation or write blog entries? The project will tackle this question empirically by investigating the register-specificity of grammatical variation in English and Dutch. The contrastive variation analysis will rely on both corpus evidence (i.e. observation) and rating task experiments.

The ideal candidate will combine:
- a background in variational/variationist linguistics
- proficiency in the analysis of text corpora
- experience in designing and conducting experiments
- good communication skills (oral & written), as well as strong interpersonal skills.

We offer a full-time position for 4 years (remuneration is in accordance with the official Belgian scales for academic personnel and bursaries – see the KU Leuven jobsite for more information).
The working language of the project is English. As Dutch is one of the object languages included in the project, candidates who do not speak Dutch are expected to build up proficiency in Dutch in the course of the project.
If you are interested in this PhD project, please send your CV and a motivation letter to by January 31, 2018. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an interview in February. The starting date is negotiable.
For more information about this project, or a more extensive project description, please email Benedikt Szmrecsanyi at

Applications Deadline: 31-Jan-2018

Mailing Address for Applications:
        Attn: Prof. Dr. Benedikt Szmrecsanyi
        Blijde-Inkomststraat 21
        PO Box 03308
        Leuven 3000

Contact Information:
        Prof. Dr. Benedikt Szmrecsanyi

Page Updated: 12-Dec-2017