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Research Fellow in the Surrey Morphology Group (SMG)

School of Literature & Languages

Location:  Guildford
Salary:  £31,604 per annum
Fixed Term until 30/04/2021
Post Type:  Full Time
Advert Placed:  Monday 22 January 2018
Closing Date:  Friday 02 March 2018
Interview Date:  Wednesday 21 March 2018
Reference:  006118

The School of Literature and Languages is seeking to appoint a Research Fellow in the Surrey Morphology Group (SMG) for a three-year Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project ‘External agreement’ (Principal Investigator: Marina Chumakina; Co-Investigator: Oliver Bond).

The project is a study of external agreement, a linguistic phenomenon whereby agreement is expressed on typologically unusual targets such as adverbs, adpositions and pronouns, yet is controlled not by the immediate syntactic head of the target, but by the subject or grammatically privileged argument of the clause.

While agreeing prepositions are familiar from languages such as Welsh and Breton, in these languages the form of preposition depends on the grammatical properties of the noun it introduces. A situation where the form of a preposition changes depending on the properties of the clausal subject (i.e. a controller external to its immediate phrase) has, until now, escaped linguistic analysis altogether. This is external agreement, a type of agreement which does not respect the syntactic constituency of a sentence, but connects elements which belong to different syntactic phrases.

Despite its typological scarcity, external agreement appears with fascinating regularity in languages of the Nakh-Daghestanian family spoken in the Caucasus: there are 17 languages with diachronically unrelated instances of external agreement. Such an abundance of examples appearing in languages with considerable variation in their syntactic systems makes external agreement in Nakh-Daghestanian an ideal opportunity for research into morphosyntactic, semantic and pragmatic mechanisms which regulate not only agreement, but also the less obvious relationships between syntactic elements in a sentence.

Our research questions are: (1) What are the syntactic constraints on external agreement? (2) What are the morphosyntactic properties of external agreement? (3) How is external agreement constrained within systems with multiple controllers? (4) How does external agreement develop?

The project involves regular fieldwork in Daghestan (approximately 1 month per year); the project activities will also include the construction of a linguistic database.

The successful candidate should have a background in typological linguistics and sound understanding of syntactic theory and analysis. Familiarity with formal models of syntax is highly desirable. Experience of conducting fieldwork and a working command of Russian is essential for carrying out fieldwork in Daghestan; evidence of skills relevant for database design and construction would be a plus. Candidates must have the ability to work independently while functioning as part of a research team. The position is available from 1 May 2018. 

The successful candidate will work as a member of Surrey Morphology Group. The SMG’s current research includes fieldwork (on Daghestanian, Oto-Manguean, Slavonic, Nilotic, Papuan and Tibeto-Burman languages), morphological theory (especially Network Morphology), linguistic typology (including Canonical Typology) and computational modelling.

Further information about the Surrey Morphology Group and their current research projects is available at http://www.smg.surrey.ac.uk/. 

Informal enquiries may be made to Dr Marina Chumakina (m.chumakina@surrey.ac.uk), or Dr Oliver Bond (o.bond@surrey.ac.uk). 

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For more information and to apply online, please download the further details and click on the 'apply online' button above.

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