Postdoc Position on the Grammar of Drum Languages
Utrecht University, Faculty of Humanities

Postdoc position on the grammar of drum languages (0.8 FTE)


Job description

We are looking for an excellent candidate for a post-doctorate position in a research project on drum languages. Candidates should be able to carry out outstanding fieldwork, and do theoretical linguistic work on the relation between grammar and music in drum language in general.


The project is funded by NWO by way of a Free Competition project awarded to the principal investigator Prof. Y. Winter. It is the first extensive linguistic and experimental study of the drum languages, specifically as used by Senegalese musicians.


This PhD project aims to develop a linguistic theory of drum language. It follows previous work done by the PI (Winter, Y., Language 90, 2014). Candidates are expected to have an excellent background in theoretical linguistics or another relevant discipline. In addition, candidates should be able and prepared to carry out fieldwork for a period of six months.


The tasks for the PhD candidate will include:

  • Carrying out fieldwork among Wolof speaking musicians in Senegal, and/or with other communities using drum language, in collaboration with a PhD student;
  • Help with PhD student supervision;
  • Embedding the results of the research within a coherent theory of drum languages, informed by recent advances in theoretical linguistics and cognitive science;
  • Presenting results at workshops and conferences, and publishing them as peer-reviewed articles in international journals;
  • Documenting drum language traditions in Senegal and elsewhere;
  • Teaching undergraduate courses.




  • A (soon to be completed) PhD degree in Linguistics, with a substantial fieldwork component;
  • Excellent proficiency in spoken and written English;
  • An outstanding record of research;
  • Interest in fieldwork research, and readiness to live in Senegal or another African country for a period of 6-12 months as part of the project;
  • Excellent communicational skills and ability to work in a heterogeneous team;
  • Fluency in Wolof or French, or a proven ability to quickly master foreign languages is a strong advantage;
  • Proven musical experience is a strong advantage.



The position is offered at 0.8 FTE, 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 36 months (4 years in total). The gross monthly salary starts at €3,389 in the first year, and ends at €3,773 in the final 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 flexible employment conditions. Conditions are based on the Collective Employment Agreement of the Dutch Universities. More information: terms of employment

About the organization

The research is conducted within the ‘Language and speech: processing and disorders’ group of the Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS. Other research groups at UiL OTS focus on Language Variation, Language, Logic and Information, 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 students.

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.

UiL OTS belongs to the Department of Language, Literature and Communication. The Department 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.

Utrecht University

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.

Additional information
For more details on this research project, see

For further information, please feel free to contact Prof. Yoad Winter (for his email address see or the research coordinator at UiL OTS (Dr. Maaike Schoorlemmer via,

Your application should include digital copies of:

  • application form - to be downloaded from;
  • CV including full personal and academic details;
  • Two samples of publications or chapters from PhD thesis;
  • Names and full contact details of two academic referees.

Interviews, in person or otherwise, of selected applicants will be held during the week starting September 8, 2019.


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives.


The application deadline is

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