LINGUIST List 32.1506

Fri Apr 30 2021

Support: Language Documentation; Linguistic Theories; Morphology; Syntax: PhD, Universität Leipzig

Editor for this issue: Becca Morris <>

Date: 29-Apr-2021
From: Maria Kouneli <>
Subject: Language Documentation; Linguistic Theories; Morphology; Syntax: PhD, Universität Leipzig, Germany
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Department: Institut für Linguistik
Web Address:

Level: PhD

Institution/Organization: Universität Leipzig

Duties: Research

Specialty Areas: Language Documentation; Linguistic Theories; Morphology; Syntax


The project “Layers of morphosyntactic number in Eastern Sudanic” offers two PhD positions (payscale: TVL-E13, 65%) with full funding for 4 years, starting from October 1st, 2021. The project will be part of the Research Unit “Cyclic Optimization” (Leipzig University), funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). Further information on the RU can be found here:

The goal of this project is to investigate phenomena pertaining to the underexponence of number (i.e., the presence of fewer than expected number morphemes in a given word) and the overexponence of number (i.e., the presence of more than expected number morphemes in a given word) in the understudied Eastern Sudanic branch of the Nilo-Saharan language family, and to investigate whether a Cyclic Optimization approach is better-equipped to account for the attested cross-linguistic variation. The Cyclic Optimization approach to be developed follows the assumptions of Minimalism for syntax and Distributed Morphology for exponence, but introduces optimization steps at the interfaces.The specific phenomena to be investigated include the tripartite system of number marking in the nominal domain (featuring a variety of plural and singulative affixes), reduplication and pluractionality in the verbal domain, as well as various phenomena in verbal agreement: discontinuous exponence, multiple exponence of person and/or number agreement, and inverse marking in person hierarchy-driven agreement. The bulk of the empirical data for this project will come from original fieldwork conducted in Kenya with speakers of different dialects of four Eastern Sudanic languages (Kalenjin, Turkana, Maa, Didinga).

More details can be found here:

The tasks of the PhD students include the following:
- Both PhD students will be actively involved in data collection and will take part in field trips to Kenya.
- Each PhD student will be responsible for one of the empirical phenomena under investigation (outlined above) and is expected to write a thesis in this (or a related) topic.

The PhD students are also expected to participate in the rotation program of the Research Unit (RU), which involves two 2-month internships in other projects of the RU, and the courses offered in the RU training program. The PhD students will have access to travel money for conferences.

- MA (or equivalent) in linguistics or related field
- Excellent command of English (German not required)
- Strong background in theoretical linguistics, especially syntax and morphology
- Previous research on African or other understudied languages is a plus, but not required
- The candidate must be willing to participate in field trips to Kenya

Applications should include the following supporting documents:
- Letter of motivation (1-2 pages) that clarifies the research interests of the applicant, in particular detailing how these would fit in with the research goals of the project
- Representative sample of research work (e.g., an advanced seminar paper or M.A. thesis): in English or German
- Two letters of recommendation
- Curriculum Vitae (CV)
- Copy of M.A. degree (to be handed in latest by October 1, 2021, if not already available by June 30, 2021)

All supporting documents for the application should be emailed electronically as a single .pdf file (the M.A. degree to be scanned in) to Jun.-Prof. Maria Kouneli (subject line: cyclop phd synmor; email: The recommendation letters should be emailed directly to this address by the referees.

Applications Deadline: 30-Jun-2021

Mailing Address for Applications:
        Attn: Mailing Address for Applications:

        Attn: Jun.-Prof. Dr. Maria Kouneli
        Beethovenstr. 15
        Leipzig 04107

Contact Information:
        Jun.-Prof. Dr. Maria Kouneli

Page Updated: 30-Apr-2021