3-year Postdoc position in the project 'A composition calculus for vector-based semantic modelling with a localization for Dutch
Utrecht University, Faculty of Humanities

3-year Postdoc position in the project 'A composition calculus for vector-based semantic modelling with a localization for Dutch' (1.0 FTE)


Job description

You will be participating in the project 'A composition calculus for vector-based semantic modelling with a localization for Dutch'. Focusing on empirical data from Dutch, the project aims to combine a vector-based modelling of lexical semantics with a typelogical compositional account of how word meanings are combined to obtain interpretations for larger linguistic units. The project is funded by the NWO Open Competition programme and is conducted at the Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS, at the Humanities Faculty, Utrecht University, the Netherlands. The Principal investigator (PI) is Michael Moortgat.

The project consists of the following three subprojects. P1 and P2 are currently in progress. The present job vacancy concerns P3.

P1. Semantic structures for enriched compositional distributional models. This project works out the logical and mathematical foundations of the proposed grammar architecture and its compositional vector-based interpretation. A first aim is to show how the derivations of a state-of-the art typelogical syntax model can be mapped to an interpretation in finite dimensional vector spaces and linear maps. Secondly, we investigate enriched distributional models that exploit the properties of the syntactic source logic more fully.

P2. Typelogical grammar induction for vector-based semantics from Dutch treebank data. Whereas P1 develops a language-independent framework for compositional distributional semantics, the present subproject develops a localization of the abstract model for Dutch. The project applies machine learning techniques to obtain the required lexical entries and the associated vectorial representations from annotated corpora. For the distributional interpretation, it employs a linguistically informed notion of `context', based on the dependency relations of words.

P3. Empirical validation of the extended vector-based semantic model. This project evaluates the abstract grammatical model on Dutch empirical data, and conducts a number of experiments in order to measure the performance of the model as compared to the alternative approaches. The focus is on the structural particularities of the Dutch language that pose a challenge to a compositional vector-based interpretation.

Tasks for the Postdoc will include:

  • participation in the expert meetings scheduled for the project group;
  • regular presentation of intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;
  • publication of at least two peer-reviewed articles in established international journals;
  • co-organization of project workshops and conferences;
  • coaching of junior project members;
  • teaching.



  • We are looking for a Postdoc with:
  • a PhD degree in a relevant discipline (Linguistics, Computer Science, logic) with a thesis showing expertise in computational semantics, in particular in the use of extended typelogical grammars and machine learning techniques for vector-based semantic modelling;
  • native or near-native fluency in Dutch;
  • excellent English oral proficiency, academic writing and presentation skills;
  • programming expertise;
  • ability to meet deadlines and work both as an independent researcher and as a team member;
  • good organizational, social and communication skills.



The position is offered on a fulltime basis, starting 1 November 2019, initially for a period of 12 months. Upon good performance and a positive evaluation, the contract will be extended for the remaining period of 24 months (3 years in total). The gross monthly salary starts at €3,389 in the first year (scale 10, step 5 according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities), and ends at €3,637 (scale 10, step 7 according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) in the final year. Utrecht University offers a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% per year, an end-of-year bonus of 8.3% and flexible employment conditions. Conditions are based on the Collective Employment Agreement of the Dutch Universities. More information: terms of employment.

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.


UiL OTS is part of the Faculty of Humanities which 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.


The research is conducted within the Language, Logic and Information group of the Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS. Other research groups at UiL OTS focus on Language Variation, Linguistic Theory and Language Acquisition, Language Processing and Language Pathology, Language and Education, Language and Communication. The UiL OTS research staff comprises approximately 20 Full Professors, a dozen Postdocs and roughly 40 PhD candidates.

Additional information
A fuller project description is available here. For additional information, please contact the PI, Michael Moortgat, or the Research Coordinator at UiL OTS, Maaike Schoorlemmer.

If interested in applying for one of the advertised PhD positions, please send digital copies of:

  • a cv;
  • a motivation letter;
  • copies of relevant diplomas and grade transcripts;
  • your PhD thesis and other relevant publications;
  • names and full contact details of two academic referees.
  • Please use the application button below to apply and include your name and a reference to the position you are applying for in the filenames of uploaded materials.

Interviews, live or by videoconference, are planned for the week starting September 16th, 2019.


The application deadline is

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