LINGUIST List 30.3139

Thu Aug 15 2019

Support: Cushitic; Historical Linguistics: PhD, Universiteit Leiden

Editor for this issue: Becca Morris <>

Date: 15-Aug-2019
From: Maarten Mous <>
Subject: Cushitic; Historical Linguistics: PhD, Universiteit Leiden, Netherlands
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Department: Centre for Linguistics
Web Address:

Level: PhD

Institution/Organization: Universiteit Leiden

Duties: Research

Specialty Areas: Historical Linguistics
African Linguistics; East Africa


Salaried PhD Position (full time, 4 years) in the NWO project: Unravelling East Africa’s Early Linguistic History

The PhD candidate will be working on a subproject within the project Unravelling East Africa’s Early Linguistic History, funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), and directed by dr. Maarten Mous (professor of African linguistics at Leiden University). Aims of the PhD subproject is a revised and drastically expanded linguistic reconstruction of Proto Core Cushitic. The PhD candidate is expected to revise and expand the current reconstruction of Lowland East Cushitic bringing in new material from relevant languages, establish the genetic position of Southern Cushitic (including evidence from historical morphology) and provide a reconstructed lexicon and phonology of the common ancestor. It may be needed to do some fieldwork to fill lacunae in the lexical data.

Unravelling East Africa’s Early Linguistic History is a research project that aims to reconstruct the earliest possible linguistic history of East Africa with focus on Tanzania and Kenya and to provide a comprehensive overview of its linguistic history in the last five thousand years. In the traditional view, East Africa was populated by KhoiSan speaking hunter-gatherer communities before successive populations of Cushitic, Bantu, and Nilotic people moved in, bringing agriculture, animal husbandry, and iron. Recent advances in archaeology show a more complex picture. Also, genetic studies have become available, including studies on ancient human and cattle DNA. Furthermore, historical linguists no longer consider the various East African Khoi-San languages as related to each other. It is therefore time to fully reconsider how the linguistic evidence relates to the early populations. We aim at an overview of which language groups were where and in which chronology based on linguistic evidence which serves as input for an interdisciplinary workshop with archaeologists and geneticists that will provide a new and detailed picture for the peopling of East Africa, linking linguistic groups with archaeological finds and DNA results.

- Completing a PhD thesis within four years;
- Publishing at least one article;
- Presenting papers at conferences;
- Participating in the training program of the LUCL Graduate School and the National Research School in Linguistics (LOT) and other relevant discussion groups, seminars, workshops, and events;
- Some teaching in the second and third years of the appointment.

- An MA in Linguistics or similar subject that contained training in the comparative method.
- Affinity with Cushitic linguistics;
- Experience in historical linguistic research; knowledge of or interest in Cushitic and East Africa’s linguistic past;
- Preferably knowledge of Swahili.

The job location is at the Centre for Linguistics, Leiden University. The position comes with a salary of minimally 2.325,- EUR gross per month. Initially a one-year contract, with extension for the following 36 months on condition of a positive evaluation.

To apply, please see the application link provided below.

Web Address for Applications:

Contact Information:
        Dr. Maarten Mous

Page Updated: 15-Aug-2019