PhD scholarships at RCLT

Alexandra Aikhenvald A.Aikhenvald at LATROBE.EDU.AU
Thu Jun 2 08:06:58 UTC 2005

PhD scholarships in grammatical description

The Research Centre for Linguistic Typology at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, invites applications from suitably qualified students to enter the PhD program.

Our PhD candidates generally undertake extensive fieldwork on a previously undescribed (or scarcely described) language and write a comprehensive grammar of it for their dissertation. They are expected to work on a language which is still actively spoken, and to establish a field situation within a community in which it is the first language. They normally undertake a first fieldtrip of nine to twelve months and, towards the end of their course, a follow-up fieldtrip of two to three months. Fieldwork methodology should be centred on the collection, transcription and analysis of texts, together with participant observation, and - at a later stage - judicious grammatical elicitation in the language under description (not through the lingua franca of the country). Our main priority areas are the languages of Amazonia and the Papuan and Austronesian languages of New Guinea. However, we do not exclude applicants who have an established interest in languages from other areas.

PhDs in Australian universities generally involve no coursework, just a substantial dissertation. Candidates must thus have had a thorough coursework training before embarking on this PhD program.  This should have included courses on morphology, syntax, semantics, phonology/phonetics and comparative-historical linguistics, taught from a non-formalist perspective. We place emphasis on work that has a sound empirical basis but also shows a firm theoretical orientation (in terms of general typological theory, or what has recently come to be called basic linguistic theory). 

The Research Centre for Linguistic Typology consists, at any one time, of about twenty scholars, working on a variety of languages and typological issues.  Besides the permanent staff of Professor R M W Dixon (Director) and Professor Alexandra Y Aikhenvald (Associate Director) we have an array of Research Fellows and PhD students; each year a number of senior scholars from across the world spend from three to six months with us as Visiting Fellows. Over the past decade the Research Centre has included specialists on languages from the following families or areas: Tsimshian, Algonquian, Athabaskan, Mayan, Oto-Manguean, Eskimo-Aleut, Chukchee, Arawak, Carib, Arawá, Jê, Panaoan, Jívaro, Tacanan, Indo-European, Dravidian, Turkic, Uralic, Niger-Congo, Afro-asiatic, Khoisan, Tai-Kadai, Sinitic, Tibeto-Burman, Austro-asiatic, Papuan, Austronesian and Australian.

There is also an excellent Department of Linguistics in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at La Trobe University headed by Professor Randy LaPolla. And there are fine Departments of Linguistics at the University of Melbourne and at Monash University. 

The scholarship will be at the standard La Trobe University rate, Australian $18,000 p.a.  Students coming from overseas are liable for a visa fee (effectively, a tuition fee); we will pay this. 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.

Further information about RCLT is at our website: 
See, in particular, our February 2005 Newsletter, available on this web site.

Prospective applicants are invited to get in touch with Professor Aikhenvald at a.aikhenvald at, providing details of their background, qualifications and interests. 

Professor Alexandra Y Aikhenvald
Associate Director
Research Centre for Linguistic Typology
La Trobe University
Victoria   3086
Tel: 61 3 9479 6402
Fax: 61 3 9467 3053

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list