The Department of Linguistics of the KU Leuven and the Centre for Language Studies at RU Nijmegen are looking for a *PhD candidate* for a jointly funded (joint doctorate) project entitled

Using big data to model syntactic variation in Belgian and Netherlandic Dutch.

Project outline

While Belgians and Dutchmen are well aware that they use different words, and that their pronunciation diverges, they are mostly oblivious to the fact that there are also grammatical discrepancies between Belgian and Netherlandic Dutch. Few Belgians, for instance, will realize that the preposition ?voor’ in ‘Jan maakte (voor) haar een boterham’ is optional for them, whereas it is indispensable for almost all the Dutch.

How come there are such outspoken syntactic differences between two varieties (in a comparatively small language area) which did not begin to diverge before the 16th century? And where do these differences come from? In order to answer these questions, we draw on large subtitle and newspaper corpora, and marshal machine translation, machine learning, and automated semantic classification technologies to access the syntactic motor, or motors, of Dutch.

What we offer

The PhD-candidate will be stationed at the KU Leuven, but the position includes internships at the Meertens Institute Amsterdam and the RU Nijmegen.


KU Keuven


We are looking for a PhD-candidate with

– experience in big data analysis and natural language processing (such as statistical machine translation, machine learning, automatic semantic classification,?);
experience with variationist linguistics and (preferably functional) syntax;
– experience with different types of fixed- and mixed-effects regression analyses;
– a good deal of mobility (in view of the required internships)
– good communication skills (both written and oral ? the candidate will be asked to present his or her work at conferences, and to write papers), as well as strong interpersonal skills.

Language requirements:

Candidates who do not speak Dutch are expected to acquire a good proficiency in the (early) course of the project.

Specific requirements:

Full-time position for 4 years (remuneration is in accordance with the official Belgian scales for academic personnel and bursaries ? see the KU Leuven jobsite for more information).

Tagged as: , , , , ,