LINGUIST List 30.4629

Fri Dec 06 2019

Support: Middle English; English; Old English; Historical Linguistics; Morphology; Syntax: PhD, ZAS/HU-Berlin

Editor for this issue: Becca Morris <>

Date: 06-Dec-2019
From: Thomas McFadden <>
Subject: Middle English; English; Old English; Historical Linguistics; Morphology; Syntax: PhD, ZAS/HU-Berlin, Germany
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Level: PhD

Institution/Organization: ZAS/HU-Berlin

Duties: Research,Project Work

Specialty Areas: Historical Linguistics; Morphology; Syntax

Required Language(s): English (eng)
                            English, Middle (enm)
                            English, Old (ang)


Leibniz-Centre General Linguistics (ZAS) and Humboldt-University of Berlin (HU) invite applications for two PhD researcher positions in the project “Register and the development of periphrasis in the history of English”, to be led by Artemis Alexiadou at HU and Thomas McFadden at ZAS, as part of the DFG-funded Collaborative Research Center SFB1412 ‘Register: Situational and functional aspects of linguistic knowledge’.

The starting date is February 1st, 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter (no later than September 1st, 2020), and the appointments are until the end of 2023. Remuneration will be at 65% E13 of the German TVöD pay-scale (ZAS) and of the German TV-L (HU), as standard for positions leading toward a PhD.

CRC ‘Register’ encompasses 15 sub-projects jointly investigating intra-speaker variation driven by situational and functional factors at all levels of language, and focusing on the language user’s register knowledge and its relation to other types of linguistic knowledge. The sub-project “Register and the development of periphrasis in the history of English” will examine periphrastic alternations in the history of English to see what the profile of specific changes can tell us about register knowledge. The focus will be on the periphrastic comparative/superlative of adjectives (more/most stupid) in alternation with synthetic forms (stupider/stupidest), along with the periphrastic progressive (she was sitting) and its interactions with the passive, the perfect, and the creation of the modern English auxiliary system. We seek to improve existing accounts of the historical developments involving these alternations by systematically taking register into account, and conversely to deepen our understanding of how language change creates and affects patterns of variation according to register and otherwise.

The PhD researchers will conduct original corpus-based research and work together with the PIs to develop an account of patterns in the development of periphrastic structures under the influence of register, writing PhD dissertations on related topics.

One of the researchers, focused on the comparative/superlative, will be officially employed by HU. The other, primarily focused on the progressive, by ZAS, but the entire team will work in close collaboration, and both researchers will be enrolled as doctoral candidates at the HU under the primary supervision of Alexiadou, with McFadden as secondary supervisor.

Applicants must have completed their MA by the time of appointment. They should have a strong background in theoretical and/or English linguistics including syntax, preferably some background in the history of English, and ideally some experience working with electronic corpora.

Applications must be submitted by email to and and include the following, in a single PDF:
- Letter of intent stating the nature of your interest in the project and expertise you could contribute
- CV
- MA thesis and (optionally) one additional writing sample
- names and email addresses of at least two scholars to be contacted for letters of recommendation.

The deadline for receipt of applications is January 6th 2020, 9:00am (CET). Applicants will be considered for both positions, but may state a preference for one of the two topics if they choose. DR/202/19 should be quoted in case preference is for the comparative/superlative alternation. The local HU listing can be found at:

HU and ZAS are equal opportunity employers.

Applications Deadline: 06-Jan-2020

Mailing Address for Applications:
        Attn: Dr Thomas McFadden
        Schützenstr. 18
        Berlin 10117

Contact Information:
        Thomas McFadden

Page Updated: 06-Dec-2019