3 PhD positions

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) 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 Romance sister languages. The main object of investigation are heritage Italian languages in the Americas in contact with other Romance varieties. 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. 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, three PhD positions and a Postdoc position (advertised separately) will be available for the following subprojects:

  1. PhD1 – Person-driven auxiliaries and differential object marking in contact
  2. PhD2 – Deixis in contact: pronouns, determiners, adjectives and adverbs
  3. PhD3 – Subject clitics in contact

The three PhDs will have to conduct fieldwork across the three main Italian emigration countries in America where Romance languages are spoken: Argentina, Brazil, Canada/Québec. Each PhD will be responsible for an area, and will conduct fieldwork for the whole project in that area. The interaction, collaboration and sharing of data with the other PhDs and the Postdoc is therefore expected. The PhD candidates and the Postdoctoral Researcher will of course have the opportunity to fill in the details of these projects or expand them, based on their expertise, the data they gather and their own research ideas, in consultation with the principal investigator.

Tasks for the three PhD candidates will include:

  • completion and defence of a PhD thesis within four years;
  • carrying out fieldwork in one of the countries listed above, in agreement with the Supervisor and Division of Labour within the team;
  • regular presentation of intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;
  • publication of at least two peer-reviewed articles in established international journals;
  • co-organisation of workshops and conferences;
  • participation in all training programmes and expert meetings scheduled for the project;
  • participation in selected training programmes scheduled for the Research Institute, Graduate School and the National Research School.
Requirements for the three PhD candidates will include:

  • a (soon to be completed) (research) Master’s degree in linguistics or Romance linguistics, with a focus on generative syntax;
  • excellent English oral proficiency, academic writing and presentation skills;
  • fluency in one or more of the contact languages of the project: French, Spanish, Portuguese;
  • knowledge of at least one of the following Italian regional languages: Abruzzese or Neapolitan; Piedmontese; Salentino or Sicilian; Veneto;
  • an outstanding record of work in the Master’s degree;
  • ability to meet deadlines and work both as an independent researcher and as part of a team;
  • ability to work in an international, interdisciplinary team;
  • excellent organizational, social and communication skills.

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

Three PhD positions can be offered at 1,0 FTE each, starting 1 June 2017 or soon after, initially for a period of 18 months. Upon good performance and a positive evaluation, the contract will be extended for the remaining period of 30 months (4 years in total). The gross monthly salary starts at €2,191 in the first year, and ends at € 2,801 in the fourth year, on a fulltime basis.

Utrecht University offers a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% per year, an end-of-year bonus of 8.3% and 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 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
Candidates are asked to apply for one of the three positions through the button below, motivating their interest with reference to the project description. If interested in applying for a PhD 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 relevant diplomas and grade transcripts;
  • you Master’s thesis and any other publication you can provide;
  • names and full contact details of two academic referees.

Please include your name and a reference to the position you are applying for in the filenames and 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