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PhD position at the Department of Language and Literature, Norway


The PhD positions is offered by the project Deictic Communication Innovative Training Network (ITN).  ITN is a funding scheme in the Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie Actions under EU commissions Horizon 2020. The position is for a period of 3 years.

Project description
Deictic language and deictic gestures in developmental deficits

Communication involves a combination of language and gestures that act in concert. Deictic (spatial) communication is paradigmatic of communication, allowing speakers to use language and gesture to refer, and direct the attention of a conspecific, to an object/object part in the world. The primary words used for spatial deictic communication are demonstratives – words including this/that/here/there in English. These words occur in all languages, are among the highest frequency terms within a language and philologically emerge as the earliest traceable words in languages. They are among the first words children acquire and are more closely associated with deictic gestures than other linguistic items. Deictic gestures are also a predictor of language acquisition.
This project focuses on deictic communication in neurodevelopmental disorders. It is well known that there are pragmatic deficits in Autistic Spectrum Disorders. For example, problems with some pragmatic language problems persist even in the presence of preserved structural language at the high end of the autistic spectrum. It is also well known that there are deficits in visual attention in neurodevelopmental disorders, but with different disorders showing varying deficit profiles. This project will employ a range of experimental (EEG, eye tracking) and linguistic methods to provide the first detailed examination of (possible) deficits in deictic gesture and deictic language in autism in comparison with other developmental deficits (e.g. Williams Syndrome). 

The fellow will work in close collaboration with the international group of senior and junior researchers participating in the DCOMM project ( and will benefit from the training opportunities offered by the project framework and the local PhD Programme. The project is experimental in nature and the aim is to collect and analyse reliable empirical data, however with a strong interpretative component. It has huge potential for contributing to our understanding of deictic communication in the context of developmental deficits. The project comes under the broader research agenda of The Language Acquisition and Language Processing (LALP) Lab group at the Department of Language and Literature, NTNU.

Applicants should have a strong background in developmental deficits of language and cognition (from the perspective of linguistics, psychology or cognitive (neuro-) science), preferably with experience from experimental research, speech therapy, assessment and/or intervention. They should have high proficiency in English and good research writing skills.
Experience with experimental research methods (eye-tracking, ERP/EEG) and statistical analyses is mandatory. Knowledge of Norwegian (or another Scandinavian language) will weigh in favour of the applicant.

Applicants are invited to submit a 5 page project prospectus outlining a research agenda for experimental research in the project area. The project prospectus should contain the following: i) an outline of the idea that the applicant wants to pursue, ii) brief descriptions of the relevant theoretical background and methodological aspects of the proposed project, iii) a clear statement of how the project will contribute to addressing the research agenda of The LALP Lab  (

The application is to be submitted electronically through this page marked with HF 16- 004, with attachments (preferably gathered in one document):

The following attachments must be sent electronically through

  • a 5 page project prospectus
  • scanned copies of certificates (certified copies must be supplied later)
  • list of publications 
  • CV

If some of the attachments cannot be sent electronically, one copy should be sent by regular mail. The envelope must be marked with the reference number HF 16-004 and sent to NTNU, Faculty of Humanities, NO-7491 Trondheim, Norway.

Selection criteria include the candidate’s academic preparation and accomplishments to date, academic potential and originality of the project, as well as its fit within the Research Project focus. Applicants eligible for the position should not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Norway, for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the recruitment date (in compliance with the EU mobility requirements). If accepted, the scholarship holder is expected to take up residence in Trondheim and enrol in the PhD programme in Language and Linguistics at NTNU. The selected applicant will join the Language Acquisition and Language Processing Lab research group at the Department of Language and Literature, NTNU and participate in research and training activities offered locally and within the DCOMM consortium.
Applicants who are considered for the positions will be asked for references and invited for an interview.

The positions are remunerated according to salary level 50 in the national salary scheme, gross NOK 430.200, - annually (2016), of which 2 per cent is deducted for the State Pension scheme. In addition to the salary, you will receive a mobility allowance, and if applicable a family allowance.
Eligible applicants cannot already hold a PhD degree awarded by NTNU to qualify for selection. (Forskrift om ansettelsesvilkår for stillinger som postdoktor, stipendiat, vitenskapelig assistent og spesialistkandidat §2-1).

The appointment will be made in accordance with the current regulations for fellowship appointments at universities. A contract will be drawn up detailing the period of appointment and required duties.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants. Primary residency at the Department of Language and Literature at the Faculty of Humanities in Trondheim is a prerequisite.

It is a major political objective to achieve a balance of age and gender in the national labour force and to recruit persons with an immigrant background.

Further details about the positions can be obtained by contacting the Director of The LALP Lab and DCOMM WP1 leader,  Professor Mila Vulchanova at

Further Information

Application Deadline : 31 March 2016

PhD position at the Department of Language and Literature : PDF

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Posted on 2016-02-09 01:51:18

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