1 Postdoctoral researcher position

Postdoctoral researcher ‘Microcontact: Language variation and change from the Italian heritage perspective’ (1.0 FTE)

Job description
You will be participating in the project Microcontact: Language variation and change from the Italian heritage perspective (MicroContact).

This project is funded by the European Research Council (ERC), by way of a Consolidator Grant awarded to the principal investigator (PI) Prof. Dr. Roberta D’Alessandro (Professor of Syntax and Language Variation at Utrecht University, the Netherlands). The project aims to develop a theory of syntactic change in contact, by observing how specific syntactic structures react to contact with very similar structures in sister Romance languages. Italian heritage languages in the Americas offer a unique combination of wide diachronic written documentation and multiple contact with other, minimally different, languages, which will allow us to investigate change while it is still happening. The main object of investigation are heritage Italian languages in the Americas as well as in Italy in contact with other Romance varieties. We will collect linguistic data of first-generation speakers, i.e. Italians that moved to the Americas between the 1940s and the 1960, as well as their peers who stayed behind at the time and came into extensive contact with Italian. The languages investigated are Abruzzese, Neapolitan, Piedmontese, Salentino, Sicilian, Tuscan and Veneto in contact with French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian (and English as a control group).

In this project, a Postdoc position will be available for the following subproject:

  • Auxiliaries, differential object marking, deixis and subject clitics in diachrony

The Postdoc will be in charge of the diachronic part of the project. His/her task will be to work in strict contact with the 3 PhD candidates and with the PI; the Postdoc will have the task to analyze the development of the syntactic phenomena listed above in regional Italian languages, both in the earliest centuries of their existence and in more recent years, in contact with standard Italian. The Postdoc will need to develop tools to assess the stability of certain phenomena and, together with the PI and the PhDs, will contribute to a theory of linguistic microchange that will compare endogenous/diachronic change with change in contact.

Interaction, collaboration and sharing of data with the PhDs and the PI is expected. The postdoc and the PhD candidates will of course have the opportunity to fill in the details of these projects or expand on them, based on their expertise, the data they gather, and their own research ideas, in consultation with the principal investigator.

Tasks for the postdoctoral research will include:

  • carrying out data-mining and research on ancient Romance texts;
  • work in archives, mostly in Italy and in the Netherlands but also in America, if needed;
  • setup of a small database of diachronic Romance texts complementing the interactive atlas for synchronic data;
  • publication of at least two peer-reviewed articles per year in established international journals;
  • co-editing of a volume;
  • co-authoring of a monograph with the PI;
  • co-organization of workshops and conferences;
  • co-supervision with the PI of the PhD students;
  • regular presentation of intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;
  • participation in all training programmes and expert meetings scheduled for the project;
Requirements for the Postdoc will include:

  • a (soon to be completed) PhD in Romance diachronic generative syntax or diachronic syntax of a Romance language;
  • extensive knowledge of generative Romance diachronic syntax;
  • an outstanding publication record;
  • excellent English oral proficiency, academic writing and presentation skills;
  • fluency in one or more of the contact languages of the project: French, Spanish, Portuguese;
  • proven ability to work in team and to supervise junior scholars;
  • ability to work in an international, interdisciplinary team;
  • excellent organizational, social and communication skills.

Fieldwork experience and/or knowledge of Italian are a plus.

A postdoc position can be offered for 1,0 FTE (or the equivalent length at 0,8 FTE) starting 1 June 2017 or soon after, initially for a period of 12 months. Upon good performance, the contract will be extended for another 36 months (four years in total). The gross monthly salary starts at € 3,068 in the first year, and ends at € 3,427 in the 4th year, on a full-time basis.

Utrecht University offers a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% per year, an end-of-year bonus of 8.3% and flexible terms of employment. Conditions are based on the Collective Employment Agreement of the Dutch Universities. More information: working at Utrecht University.

About the organization
A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

The Faculty of Humanities has approximately seven thousand students and nine hundred staff members. It comprises four Research Institutes: The Institute of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Institute of History and Art History, Institute of Cultural Inquiry (ICON), and the Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS (UiL OTS). With its research and education in these fields, the Faculty aims to contribute to a better understanding of the Netherlands and Europe in a rapidly changing social and cultural context. The enthusiastic and committed colleagues and the excellent amenities in the historical city centre of Utrecht, where the Faculty is housed, contribute to an inspiring working environment.

The Department of Language, Literature and Communication offers BA and MA programmes in literary studies, linguistics, communication studies, translation, as well as Dutch, English, German, French, Italian, Spanish and (uniquely in the Netherlands) Celtic languages.

Researchers at UiL OTS are distributed across 6 research groups, focusing on the following range of linguistic subdomains: Language Variation (to which the current project belongs), Language, Logic and Information, Linguistic Theory and Language Acquisition, Language Processing and Language Pathology, Language and Education, Language and Communication. It comprises approximately 20 full professors, a dozen postdocs and roughly 40 PhD students.

Additional information
Should you need more information, please contact the Project Director, Prof Dr Roberta D’Alessandro, r.dalessandro@uu.nl or the Research Coordinator at UiL OTS (Maaike Schoorlemmer). For a short description of the project please click the following link: http://www.robertadalessandro.it/erc
If you are interested in applying for this postdoc position, please send digital copies of:

  • a letter of motivation;
  • a research statement of about 1000 words, explaining why and how you plan to conduct this research;
  • a CV;
  • certified copies of the PhD diploma;
  • the PhD dissertation and any other publication you can provide;
  • names and full contact details of two academic referees.

Please use the application button below to apply.

Interviews will be held during the last 2 weeks of March 2017.

You can apply here.

The application deadline is