Vacature: PhD position Linguistics: Multilingual Melodies

A fulltime four-year PhD position on the project “Multilingual Melodies: Language, technology and Fryslân” is offered by INCAS3 and the University of Groningen.

Job description

The “Multilingual Melodies” project is a study of the prosodic patterns of Frisian-Dutch bilingual speech. As such, it is suited for applicants motivated to earn a doctoral diploma in linguistics, with specialization in prosodic analysis and language change/contact. The PhD candidate will provide a feasibility report about how prosodic cues may be used in sensor technology. The project therefore involves theoretical and laboratory analyses, fieldwork, and the development of exploratory technological applications.

Frisian, or West Frisian, is a minority language spoken in the North of the Netherlands. To date, the prosody of this endangered language is not documented. The PhD student will be expected to describe how prosodic features are used by multilingual (Frisian-Dutch) speakers, as opposed to monolingual Dutch speakers living in Fryslân, addressing the nuances of language contact and change.

The PhD project constitutes four years of fulltime employment. During the first year of the project, the student is expected to collect a corpus of Frisian-Dutch speech, on which the analysis of prosody in multilingual speech patterns can be based. The candidate will transcribe and annotate the corpus, making it available also for other researchers in linguistics or related disciplines. The corpus may form part of the material of speech data used in the project Language Lab for Leeuwarden’s celebration of its status as European Capital of Culture in 2018.

Informed by the (comparative) prosodic analysis, the PhD candidate will develop hypotheses on the use of prosody in sensors. These hypotheses will be sharpened and tested with experimentation and laboratory work. Results are expected to be published in specialized peer-reviewed journals, cumulating in a final deliverable: a feasibility report on the use of prosody for sensor technology. This report will be compiled in cooperation with engineers, technicians, psychologists and fellow linguists at INCAS³.


INCAS³ is an independent, private, non-profit research institute dedicated to solving challenging industrial and social technological problems by combining academic and engineering excellence. All research is performed by doctoral students, postdoctoral researchers and senior scientists in collaboration with a team of skilled engineers from the headquarters in Assen, The Netherlands, as well as within internationally renowned partner institutes. The Cognitive Systems Group at INCAS³ is comprised of a multidisciplinary team of postdoctoral and PhD researchers. The members of this group strive to establish a unified semantic description of cognitive processing operable across bodies of knowledge which can be incorporated into sensor functioning. The envisioned results are cognitive sensor systems; i.e., sensors that make data meaningful.

Since its foundation in 1614, the University of Groningen has enjoyed an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative center of higher education offering high quality teaching and research. The Center for Language and Cognition Groningen, CLCG, is a research institute based in the Faculty of Arts with research groups in theoretical and empirical linguistics, computational linguistics, language development, and discourse and communication.


  • a Master degree in which relevant linguistics modules (e.g. phonology, phonetics, prosodic analysis, forensic linguistics) have been successfully completed
  • excellent record of undergraduate and master level study
  • excellent command of written and spoken English
  • strong motivation to complete a PhD dissertation in four years
  • command of Dutch and Frisian or the ability to learn both quickly.

Conditions of employment

INCAS3 and the University of Groningen offer a salary of € 2,083 gross per month in the first year to € 2,664 gross per month in the fourth year. The 1.0 fte appointment is temporary for a specified period of four years. The candidate will be a fulltime employee of INCAS3 during the first year of the project, and a fulltime employee of the University of Groningen during the last three years. The position must result in a PhD dissertation.

After the first year, an assessment will take place of the candidate’s results and the progress of the project to decide whether the employment will be continued.

The starting date of the PhD project is 1 July 2014.


The PhD candidate will be affiliated with the research institute INCAS³ and the Department of Frisian Language and Culture/Center for Language and Cognition Groningen (CLCG) at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Groningen. The PhD candidate will be enrolled in the research training program of the Graduate School for the Humanities at the University of Groningen. The student will also be expected to participate in graduate school activities in Leeuwarden in Fryslân, organized by University Campus Fryslân (UCF). The PhD student will be supervisedby Dr Matt Coler and Dr Nanna Haug Hilton.


You may apply for this position before 1 May 2014 (23:59 CET) by means of the application form (click on “Apply” below the text of the vacancy on the university’s website).

Please include in your application (in English): a letter of motivation, curriculum vitae, a copy of diplomas with lists of grades, and a passport scan. Please also provide reference letters by two academic referees. Be sure to mention vacancy number (214137) in your application.

The entire application should be sent in PDF format, using the link to the application form. Incomplete dossiers will not be considered. Selected candidates will be interviewed in early June.

Acquisition is not appreciated.


Should a candidate require additional information, they are directed to contact Dr Nanna Haug Hilton, e-mail: after April 14th (please do not use for applications).

For information you can contact:

Prof. Goffe Jensma,