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Interaction of Grammatical Building Blocks (IGRA)

DFG-GRK 2011

A new graduate programme in linguistics, part of the Graduate Centre Life Sciences of the Research Academy Leipzig

Start: April 1, 2014

Calls for Open Positions (8 PhD and 2 PostDoc)


Programme Description

The primary research focus of IGRA is on the phonology, morphology, and syntax of natural languages.

Recent developments in grammatical theory have accumulated an impressive body of knowledge about (i) the representations of linguistic expressions of varying complexity (from signal to sentence), and (ii) the grammatical building blocks (i.e., rules, operations, constraints, schemata, extralinguistic factors) that restrict the distributions of linguistic expressions. In addition, there are some plausible hypotheses as to how these postulated grammatical building blocks interact with one another (e.g., Optimality Theory). However, what is so far lacking is a comprehensive and systematic investigation of the possible interactions of grammatical building blocks from different theoretical perspectives, on the basis of careful and detailed empirical studies of phonological, morphological, and syntactic phenomena from an array of typologically diverse languages, which is, furthermore, grounded on different types of research techniques (introspective, experimental, corpus-based). It is the primary goal of the graduate programme to address this gap.

As such, the individual research projects of IGRA will take as their starting point a taxonomy that distinguishes between excitatory and inhibitory interactions, on the one hand, and between simultaneous and sequential ones, on the other. Cross-classification then yields four logical types of interaction: (i) excitatory sequential interaction of building blocks: Feeding, Counter-Bleeding; (ii) inhibitory sequential interaction of building blocks: Bleeding (incl. improper movement, strict cyclicity), Counter-Feeding; (iii) excitatory simultaneous interaction of building blocks: cooperation, and (iv) inhibitory simultaneous interaction of building blocks: competition (disjunctive blocking, conflict). (Note: (Counter-) Feeding and (Counter-) Bleeding may not be common notions in all current syntactic theories, but these interactions are ubiquitous in syntax and (e.g.) underlie virtually all representation/derivation debates.) All four kinds of interaction are covered by the expertise of several members of the Research Training Group; and they are all deeply grounded in the interdisciplinary concept of the planned research programme within IGRA.

The PhD dissertations carried out under this programme are encouraged to pursue empirical research that is based on different grammatical models (and potentially also on combinations thereof), such as, for instance: Minimalism (Chomsky 2001, 2008, 2013), Principles and Parameters (Chomsky 1981, 1986), Optimality Theory (Prince and Smolensky 2004), Rule-Based phonology (Vaux and Nevins, 2008), Distributed Morphology (Halle and Marantz 1993), Lexical Decomposition Grammar (Wunderlich 1997), Construction Grammar (Goldberg 2006, Sag, Boas and Kay 2012), Framework-Free Grammatical Theory (Haspelmath 2010), Minimalist Morphology (Wunderlich 1997), Paradigm-Function Morphology (Stump 2001), and usage-based models of (or approaches to) language (Langacker 1987, 2000, Bybee 2006, 2010). The programme thus offers PhD candidates the unique opportunity of conducting linguistic research in an academically rigorous environment that is not pre-biased toward one or other theoretical framework but offers exposure to a diverse range of theoretical perspectives.


Full Proposal

Here is the original text submitted to the DFG (in German). It includes an informal list of some of the potential topics for dissertations (in English) that candidates might use as a clue as to what kind of studies we envisage.


Participating Institutions

Department of Linguistics, University of Leipzig (UL)
Department of British Studies, University of Leipzig (UL)
Department of Slavonic Studies, University of Leipzig (UL)
Department of Linguistics, Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig (MPI-EVA)


Faculty

Prof. Dr. Gereon Müller (Coordinator; Dept. of Linguistics, UL)
Prof. Dr. Barbara Stiebels (Vice Coordinator; Dept. of Linguistics, UL)
Dr. Petr Biskup (Dept. of Slavonic Studies, UL)
Prof. Dr. Martin Haspelmath (Dept. of Linguistics, MPI-EVA)
Dr. Fabian Heck (Dept. of Linguistics, UL)
Dr. Andreas Opitz (Dept. of Linguistics, UL)
Prof. Dr. Thomas Pechmann (Dept. of Linguistics, UL)
PD Dr. Martin Salzmann (Dept. of Linguistics, UL)
Prof. Dr. Doris Schönefeld (Dept. of British Studies, UL)
JunProf. Dr. Sandhya Sundaresan (Dept. of Linguistics, UL)
JunProf. Dr. Nina Topintzi (Dept. of Linguistics, UL)
PD Dr. Jochen Trommer (Dept. of Linguistics, UL)
Prof. Dr. Gerhild Zybatow (Dept. of Slavonic Studies, UL)


Open Positions

IGRA will offer full funding for 8 PhD candidates who wish to obtain the degree of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) in any area of syntax, morphology and/or phonology and their interfaces. Each PhD position is funded for 3 years with social benefits (Payscale: 0.5 TVL-E13) and will consist of a combination of course-work and independent research. Students will also have the opportunity to conduct extended research stays at leading research institutions in Europe and in the USA.

In addition, IGRA will offer full funding for 2 post-doctoral researchers in any area of syntax, morphology and/or phonology and their interfaces. Each post-doctoral position is funded for 2 years with social benefits (Payscale: 1.0 TVL-E13). The post-doctoral candidates are expected to pursue internationally visible research on grammatical theory that is both empirically grounded and theoretically advanced.


Application Requirements for PhD Student Positions

Students from international backgrounds are particularly encouraged to apply. (The PhD courses within the programme will be conducted in English and prior knowledge of German is not required.) Applicants should have an M.A. in linguistics, or equivalent, with degree in hand latest by April 1, 2014.

Application deadline: January 15, 2014
Programme start: April 1, 2014
Primary contact person: Prof. Gereon Müller (gereon.mueller@uni-leipzig.de)

Supporting documents:

  • statement of purpose (1-2 pages) that clarifies the research interests of the applicant, in particular detailing how these would fit in with the broader research goals of the PhD programme; this can be in English or German.
  • a representative sample of research work (e.g. an advanced seminar paper or M.A. thesis): in English or German.
  • two letters of recommendation
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • copy of M.A. degree (to be handed in latest by April 1, 2014, if not already available by Jan. 15, 2014)
All supporting documents for the application must be emailed electronically as PDF files (the M.A. degree to be scanned in) to Prof. Gereon Müller at: gereon.mueller@uni-leipzig.de. The recommendation letters should be emailed directly to this address by the referees.

Application Requirements for Post-Doctoral Researcher Positions

Researchers from international backgrounds are particularly encouraged to apply; prior knowledge of German is not required. Applicants should have a PhD in linguistics, with degree in hand latest by April 1, 2014.

Application deadline: January 15, 2014
Programme start: April 1, 2014
Primary contact person: Prof. Gereon Müller (gereon.mueller@uni-leipzig.de)

Supporting documents:

  • statement of purpose (up to 5 pages) that clarifies the research interests of the applicant and details the nature of the project the candidate intends to pursue within the post-doctoral position, with particular focus on how this will fit in with the larger research. goals of the IGRA research programme: written in English or German.
  • two representative samples of research work: in English or German.
  • two letters of recommendation.
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV), with a full list of publications.
  • copy of doctoral degree (Dr./PhD), to be handed in latest by April 1, 2014, if not already available by Jan. 15, 2014).
All supporting documents for the application must be emailed electronically as PDF files (the doctoral degree to be scanned in) to Prof. Gereon Müller at: gereon.mueller@uni-leipzig.de. The recommendation letters should be emailed directly to this address by the referees.