3-year postdoc position in Experimental Pragmatics, starting January 2021

The University of Potsdam invites applications for a three-year full-time postdoctoral researcher in experimental pragmatics. The position is part of the Emmy Noether research group on ‘Scales in language processing and acquisition: Semantic and pragmatic contributions to implicature computation’, led by Dr. Nicole Gotzner.

The starting date is January 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter. The initial appointment will be until December 2021, with an extension until at least October 2023. The position is remunerated according to E13 of the German TV-L pay-scale.

The responsibility of the postdoctoral researcher is to conduct experimental research into the pragmatics and processing of scalar meaning. Furthermore, tools from theoretical pragmatics and computational modeling will be used to develop a formal model of scalar expressions.

The ideal candidate will have:
– A PhD in linguistics or related field with a specialization in experimental pragmatics or psycholinguistics
– Knowledge of semantic and pragmatic theories and experience in testing these theories experimentally
– Expertise in statistical methods (e.g., mixed-effects regression modeling)
– A willingness to further improve methods skills and to transfer knowledge to doctoral researchers and student assistants

Expertise in at least one of the following areas is advantageous but not required:
– Theories of scales and degrees
– Computational modeling
– Language acquisition
– Eye tracking
– General programming skills

Emmy Noether project:
The project ‘Scales in language processing and acquisition: Semantic and pragmatic contributions to implicature computation’ (SPA) investigates the meaning of scalar expressions. Scales are hidden behind many words. If something is large, it could also be huge, for example. The project SPA will shed new light on long-standing debates about the nature of scales, by investigating a large number of such expressions in language processing and acquisition. The overarching goal is to develop a new model of scales and implicature, that accounts for variability among such expressions. We will examine (a) the extent to which a single mechanism underlying implicature computation can be retained for different scales and (b) the kinds of alternatives that constitute the basis for implicature computation. A major focus will lie on the interpretation of adjectival scales, which have been well-studied in semantics but remain underexplored in pragmatics. We will employ a variety of psycholinguistic methods as well as probabilistic modeling tools in order to integrate insights from semantic and pragmatic theory and cognitive science. This project represents the first large-scale attempt at testing how various scales are processed, and how semantic and pragmatic representations of scales develop in tandem.

The Emmy Noether research group is funded by the DFG for a duration of six years, with an intermediate evaluation. The group consists of the PI (Dr. Nicole Gotzner), the postdoctoral researcher, 2 Phd students, who will join the project in the coming years, and several research assistants. The project also has two Mercator fellows, Prof. Dr. Louise McNally and Prof. Dr. Ira Noveck, who will visit the project regularly. The group members will be able to carry out their own research within the focus of the project. Ample financial support is provided to attend summer schools and conferences. More information on the project can be found on the following site: https://sites.google.com/view/nicolegotzner/emmy-noether-group-spa

Host institution:
The project is hosted by the Cognitive Science Department at the University of Potsdam, a leading international center for research in cognitive science, theoretical linguistics and computational modeling. The group will also be associated with the DFG-funded Collaborative Research Center 1287 ‘Limits of Variability in Language: Cognitive, grammatical and social aspects’. The CRC and the Cognitive Science Department has an active program of workshops and colloquia, exceptional facilities for experimental research, and ample opportunities for collaboration. Potsdam is an attractive historical city and its palaces are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Potsdam is close to the vibrant city of Berlin. Both cities have a high quality of life at modest living costs.

Applications must be submitted via e-mail and include the following items (single PDF):
– A letter of intent stating the nature of your interest in the project and the expertise that you could contribute, as well as your desired starting date;
– A CV including a complete list of publications;
– Electronic copies of up to three representative publications or thesis chapters; and
– The names and e-mail addresses of at least two scholars to be contacted for letters of recommendation.

The University of Potsdam is an equal opportunity employer. Applicants from underrepresented minorities are highly encouraged to apply. In accordance with the German law (TzBfG), the position can be carried out part-time. To combine family care with pursuing an academic career, the candidate will be able to work remotely and receive a contract extension in the case of parental leave.

Application Deadline: 31.8.2020 (Open until filled)

Email Address for Applications: nicole.gotzner@uni-potsdam.de
Dr. Nicole Gotzner