PhD candidate working on the theoretical modeling of (partial) grammars and their visualization on geographical maps

This PhD project is part of the project Maps and Grammar ( Maps and Grammar investigates the relation between the geographic distribution of linguistic variables (i.e. syntactic, phonological and morphological properties) and their organization in mental grammars. One of the central questions is if and how we can put (partial) grammars on geographic maps, instead of individual linguistic variables. Maps and Grammar includes the postdoc project Computing regions (quantitative analysis and visualization of complex linguistic variation data), the PhD project Inclusion Relations (implicational chains between linguistic variables), the PhD project Transition Zones (theoretical modeling of grammars in dialectal transition zones) and the PhD project advertised here, Grammaticometrics (modeling and visualization of (partial) dialect grammars). The other positions are already filled.

Maps and Grammar: is funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) for the period 2013-2018. The research is carried out at the Meertens Institute in cooperation with Leiden University and the University of Groningen. The PhD student for the project Grammaticometrics will participate in the Netherlands National Graduate School of Linguistics (LOT).

Job function information

The project will start out from a part of grammar which shows a lot of dialect variation, to be chosen in consultation with the other researchers in the group; examples are the pronominal systems or the sound systems of Dutch dialects. Data will be taken from syntactic, morphological and phonological databases. (There is no absolute requirement that the work is done on the basis of Dutch; dialect variation in other languages can also be studied, provided there are enough data available in electronic form.)
The PhD student should model this fragment as a formal system (of rules, constraints or constructions), and visualize the developed partial grammars on geographic maps. The key question is whether the maps which are built in this way, based on more ‘abstract’ principles are significantly different from traditional maps that are typically based on more ‘superficial’ data, such as different words. The answer to this question will be central in the dissertation. Another question to be answered is how the differences between partial grammars can be measured.

Required skills

  • MA in theoretical and/or computational linguistics
  • Excellent research skills
  • Programming and modeling skills
  • Able to work in a research team and independently
  • Interested in the theoretical analysis of microlinguistic variation


The selected candidate will get a contract for 1 year (38 hours/week). If successfull, this contract can be extended to 4 year. The starting salary is 2.083 euro/month.
Location: Meertens Instituut Amsterdam
Dienstverband: Temporary, for 1 year.

More information

For information on this position you can contact Prof. dr. Sjef Barbiers (020-4628530; A more extensive project description can be found at 

Please send your application with CV before June 16 2014 to:
Meertens Instituut, Human Resource Department, mrs. M. Lucassen, PO Box 94264, 1090 GG Amsterdam, the Netherlands.