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Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more



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Level: PhD
Duty: Research,Project Work
Linguistic Field: General Linguistics Cognitive Linguistics
Application Deadline: 01-Nov-2012
Supporting Institution: The University of Hong Kong
Linguistics
LL Issue: 23.3806
Posted: 11-Sep-2012
Support Description: This PhD position is part of a newly funded research project on complexity
and simplicity in isolating languages. The project is housed in the
Department of Linguistics of The University of Hong Kong.

Our aim is a deeper understanding of the notion of linguistic complexity with
particular reference to languages of the isolating type and the notion of
hidden complexity. Despite the numerous debates in the field, it has been
long recognized that complexity is as yet ill-defined in linguistics and
typically relative to theoretical stance and thus variably interpreted by
different scholars (see Muysken 1988; Plank 2001). How linguistic
complexity should be defined is a central issue in linguistics and holds the
key to a major aspect of the study of language. If language is indeed a
biological trait of humans, as argued by Chomsky and the generative
school, then languages must be of overall equal complexity, even if they
may differ in the complexity of sub-domains of grammar (say morphology vs.
syntax). If on the other hand language is part of human culture, different
languages could show different degrees of complexity, related to the
complexity of the cultural system in which they evolve. In order to tackle
these issues, the project focuses on two areas of hidden complexity (1-2)
and one area of overt complexity (3) in Sinitic and Creole languages: (1)
polyfunctionality: the use of one and the same lexical item for different
grammatical functions; (2) covert or hidden functional categories (i.e. not
obligatorily expressed); and (3) verb serialization, or serial verb
constructions, complex semantic events without over grammatical linkers.

Project objectives include:
- Refine our definition of overt complexity
- Quantify hidden complexity in terms of processing costs
- Develop methods for the analysis of different types of complexity

The incoming PhD candidate will actively tackle one or more of the project's
objectives. Candidates will have a strong background in general linguistics
and cognitive science. Additional familiarity or interest in languages of the
isolating type, especially East and Southeast Asian, is an advantage.
Candidates are expected to be good team players as well as promising
researchers. The dissertation committee includes Dr. U. Ansaldo, Dr. S.
Matthews and Prof. LH Tan. It is hoped that the successful candidate will be
available from February 1, 2013.

Applications must be submitted via the standard online application process
for HKU. Further information on research postgraduate education at HKU
and Application procedure can be obtained from
http://www.gradsch.hku.hk/gradsch/web/apply/index_ps.htm.

Full-time PhD students who hold a first degree with second-class honors
first division (or equivalent) or above are normally considered eligible to
receive a Postgraduate Scholarship during the normative study period.
Candidates' results in Master's degrees may also be considered. The basic
scholarship is currently HK$13,600 (US$1,740)/month (subject to revision).
Additional financial awards are available. The Hong Kong PhD Fellowship
(HKPF) awards HK$20,000/month in scholarship and a
conference/research related travel allowance of HK$10,000/year for up to
three years. Applicants who have applied for the HKPF are automatically
considered for the University Postgraduate Fellowships (UPF) (HK$70,000)
in addition to other scholarships.

For further financial info, see
http://www.gradsch.hku.hk/gradsch/web/apply/guide1314/1.html
Application Web Address: http://www.gradsch.hku.hk/gradsch/web/apply/index_ps.htm
Contact Information: Dr. Umberto Ansaldo
uansaldo@gmail.com