LINGUIST List 32.796

Wed Mar 03 2021

Support: Romance; Semantics; Syntax: PhD, Trinity College Dublin

Editor for this issue: Becca Morris <>

Date: 02-Mar-2021
From: Valentina Colasanti <>
Subject: Romance; Semantics; Syntax: PhD, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
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Department: School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences
Web Address:

Level: PhD

Institution/Organization: Trinity College Dublin

Specialty Areas: Semantics; Syntax
Romance Linguistics; Sign Language Linguistics


Applications are sought for a fully funded 4-year PhD in General Linguistics for research topics connected to the project 'Gestural Grammar: Investigating Gestures in Southern Italy' (GestuGram) led by Dr Valentina Colasanti. Applicants with a background in syntax, semantics, sign language linguistics, or Romance linguistics (preferably Italo-Romance) are encouraged to apply. A background in quantitative methods and fieldwork methodologies is a plus, but not required. The starting date is September 2021.

Project summary:
Gestures are movements of the hands and body often paired with speech, and emerging research suggests that they are deeply integrated with the grammar of language, conveying semantic, syntactic, and pragmatic information.

While gesture is universal, individual gestures vary across languages. For example, in Neapolitan, a particular manual gesture can distinguish a declarative clause (e.g. Mario has a car.) from an interrogative clause (e.g. Does Mario have a car?). Thus, gestures are not simply ‘ornamental’, but can make grammatical contributions akin to the syntactic strategies of e.g. English (subject-auxiliary inversion). However, up to now, most work on gestures from a formal-theoretical perspective has focused on their semantic contribution; substantially less attention has been paid to their syntactic properties. However, it has been recently demonstrated, for instance, that gestures which contribute to the core meaning of an English sentence are obligatorily recovered as part of the interpretation of the syntactic phenomenon of ellipsis (Schlenker 2015, Esipova 2019, Sailor & Colasanti 2020).

The overall aim of this project is to situate the gesture-rich languages spoken in Southern Italy within the nascent field of gestural studies (which has mostly focused on English to this point: Ebert 2014, Abner et al. 2015, Schlenker 2015, Esipova 2018, 2019, Leeson et al. 2018, Sailor & Colasanti 2020, i.a.). These languages are of particular theoretical import because of their rich inventory of gestures capable of making a grammatical contribution, which has not received sufficient attention to this point.

The full call can be found at

Interested applicants should first contact the PI, Dr Valentina Colasanti, at the contact information below.

To apply, please send:
- A cover letter describing your interest and expertise in the topic of the project,
- A full CV (including the names and contact information of at least two referees),
- A 2-4 page research proposal on a topic related to the project.

Applications Deadline: 13-Jun-2021

Contact Information:
        Valentina Colasanti

Page Updated: 21-Apr-2021