PhD positions in Language Description and Documentation at the Research Centre for Linguistic Typology at La Trobe University

PhD positions in Language Description and Documentation at the Research Centre for Linguistic Typology at La Trobe University

Institution/Organization: La Trobe University
Department: Research Centre for Linguistic Typology
Web Address:

The Research Centre for Linguistic Typology (RCLT) at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia ( invites applications from suitably qualified students to enter its PhD program.
The RCLT is committed to comprehensively analysing the linguistic structures of languages that are endangered or have previously been little studied or are completely undescribed.

PhD candidates at the RCLT undertake extensive fieldwork on their chosen language. Following a period of academic preparation at the RCLT, students will take a fieldtrip of at least several months duration to the community where the language is spoken. Fieldwork methodology centres on the collection, transcription and analysis of texts, together with participant observation, and judicious grammatical elicitation in the language under description. RCLT students also aim at language documentation: recording a range of linguistic styles, and building a corpus of linguistic data that can be archived in international digital archives which are available to both specialist linguists and the speakers of the language.

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PhD candidates aim to write a grammatical description of the language they are working on, covering the central areas of language such as phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics and sociolinguistics of that language. Candidates may find that some of these areas merit a deeper examination than others. Following the completion of a first draft of the thesis, the candidate would undertake a second field trip of a further several months, during which time the basis and claims of the thesis can be checked.

The main priorities of the RCLT are Tibeto-Burman languages (Asia), the Papuan and Austronesian languages of New Guinea and surrounding islands, the languages of Amazonia and of Africa. However, we do not exclude applicants who have an established interest in languages from other areas.

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PhDs in Australian universities generally involve no coursework, just a substantial dissertation. Candidates must thus have had thorough coursework training before embarking on this PhD program. This should have included courses on morphology, syntax, semantics, phonology/phonetics and comparative-historical linguistics, preferably taught from a typological/functional perspective. We place emphasis on work that has a sound empirical basis and also shows a firm grounding in general typological literature and work done on related languages.

The scholarship will be at the standard La Trobe University rate, Australian $22,500 p.a. Students coming from overseas are liable for a tuition fee but this can usually be covered by a separate scholarship. A small relocation allowance may be provided on taking up the scholarship. In addition, an appropriate allowance will be made to cover fieldwork expenses. The scholarship is for three years (with the possibility of a six month extension).

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Closing date for international applicants: 30th September 2010
Closing date for Australian and New Zealand applicants: 30th October 2010

Prospective applicants are invited, in the first place, to get in touch with the Director, Professor Randy J. LaPolla, at , providing details of their background, qualifications and interests (including a curriculum vitae and detailed project proposal).

Mailing Address for Applications:
Attn: Prof Randy LaPolla
La Trobe University VIC 3086

Web Address for Applications:

Contact Information:
Prof Randy LaPolla
Phone:+61 3 9479 6400
Fax:+61 3 9479 3053