PhD candidate in Humanities
University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Humanities - Research institute ACLC

PhD candidate in Humanities
Faculty of Humanities - Research institute ACLC

Working at the UvA

PhD candidate in Humanities

Publication date 2 July 2019

Closing date 6 September 2019

Level of education Master's degree

Hours 38 hours per week

Salary indication €2,325 to €2,972 gross per month, based on 38 hours per week

Vacancy number 19-445


Research at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) is carried out by six research schools under the aegis of the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research. The Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication, one of the six research schools, currently has a vacant PhD position as part of the NWO-funded project Exceptions rule! Lexical restriction on grammatical structure led by dr Eva van Lier (University of Amsterdam).

Applications are now invited from excellent candidates who wish to conduct research on cross-linguistic diversity in the grammatical behaviour of alternating verbs.


Project description

According to usage-based linguistic theory, verb-argument constructions are not formed by abstract rules operating on the entire verbal lexicon, but rather emerge from speakers' experience with specific verbs in communicative context. However, in linguistic typology verb-specific grammatical structures have often, until recently, been treated as exceptions.
Psycholinguistic experiments confirm that language users have highly verb-specific grammatical knowledge, but these experiments assess only a few constructions in mostly Germanic languages.

In this project, the focus will be on alternating verbs, which require speakers to choose between multiple argument-coding frames. The PhD candidate will carry out detailed analyses of alternating verbs in a range of genetically and areally diverse languages, to be selected on the basis of existing literature and availability of sources (grammars/dictionaries, corpora, specialists, native speakers). For each language s/he will study the frequency of specific verbs and associated argument-coding frames, the size and composition of verbal sub-classes, and factor determining choice of coding frame. The resulting cross-linguistic database will be mined to detect cross-linguistic clustering of verbs and constructions, as well genetic/areal/structural effects.
The PhD project is integrated into a larger project, which aims to show the relevance of verb-specific grammatical knowledge in a wide variety of languages. The candidate will work in a team with the PI, a post-doc specializing in experimental research, and various specialists on specific languages.
Tasks of the PhD candidate include:

  • collecting, analysing, and interpreting cross-linguistic data on alternating verbs, including corpus-data;
  • creating and maintaining an open access typological database;
  • completing and defending a PhD thesis within four years;
  • regular presentations of intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;
  • publication of peer-reviewed articles;
  • collaboration in research team;
  • co-organization of expert meetings;
  • teaching in year 2 and 3 of the PhD project (max. 0,2 fte);
  • participation in the training program of the research school.



- MA (or equivalent) with excellent grades in general linguistics.
- Specialized knowledge of:

  • linguistic typology;
  • morpho-syntax;
  • functional (usage-based) linguistic theory;
  • corpus linguistics;
  • statistics

- Excellent research skills.
- Excellent academic writing and presentation skills.
- Excellent communicative, social, and organisational skills.
- Excellent proficiency in English


Further information

For further information, please contact:

  • dr Eva van Lier



The PhD candidate will be appointed at the Faculty of Humanities. The appointment is for 4 years for 1,0 fte under the terms of employment currently valid for the Faculty. In the first instance, a contract will be given for 16 months, with an extension for the following 32 months on the basis of a positive evaluation. The intended starting date of the contract is 1 January 2020. The gross monthly salary will be €2,325 during the first year to €2,972 during the fourth year, based on 38 hours per week, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities.


Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

Applications for the PhD position should include:

  • a letter of motivation, stating why you want to do this research in this environment (no more than one page);
  • a CV;
  • a list of grades obtained for your Bachelor and Master (or equivalent) programmes;
  • names and contact details of two academic referees;
  • a writing sample, e.g. a published paper or (a chapter from) your MA-thesis.

Applications may be submitted no later than 6 September 2019 electronically by sending your application via the link below. #LI-DNP     

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