PhD Candidate in Computational Linguistics/Digital Humanities/Computational Humanities/Data Science (AI/NLP)  Project Title: Modeling context for the analysis of language variation and change

Full official advert available here:   


Computational Analysis of Semantic Change Across Different Environments (CASCADE) is a HORIZON Marie

Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Doctoral Networks scheme which will bring together researchers from a variety

of backgrounds, including literary studies, historical text analysis, semantics, corpus linguistics, machine learning

and natural language processing. The project will emphasise the importance of computational linguistics and

humanities scholarship as skills that bring value and competitive edge to organisations concerned with semantically

aware information retrieval and text analytics. CASCADE is a partnership between University College Cork, the

University of Sheffield, KU Leuven, the University of Helsinki, and Saarland University.


This position is to be filled at Saarland University, seeking applications for a PhD project entitled Diachronic development of text

types in the English Language, which will be one of ten funded projects to emerge out of CASCADE’s doctoral

network. The successful candidate will be appointed as Marie Curie Early Career Researchers at Saarland University,

enrolled in a fully-funded three-year PhD programme.

The successful candidate will be supervised by PD Dr. Stefania Degaetano-Ortlieb. The position will be located

within the Department of Language Science and Technology. The successful applicant will have the opportunity to

collaborate with researchers affiliated with the DFG-funded Collaborative Research Center (CRC) 1102 on

Information Density and Linguistic Encoding at Saarland University. CRC 1102 is a thriving research environment with

over 30 PhD students and postdocs from many subfields of Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and

Psycholinguistics. The Department of Language Science and Technology consists of about 100 research staff in nine

research groups in the fields of Computational Linguistics, Psycholinguistics, Speech Processing, and Corpus

Linguistics. It is part of Saarland Informatics Campus, which brings together computer science research at the

university with world-class research institutions on campus.

Project description

The project Modeling context for the analysis of language variation and change will use computational approaches to mode linguistic and extra-linguistic context for the analysis of language variation and change. Context has a major impact on how we process language. However, the notion of context is very broad ranging from broadly conceived pragmatic conditions, i.e. the extra-linguistic context (e.g. socio-cultural factors, genres, time), to the relationship among linguistic elements that can substitute for each other in a given context, i.e. the paradigmatic context, up to the local linguistic context of linguistic elements, i.e. the syntagmatic context. While studies on language variation and change do encompass the notion of context, the coverage of contextual factors is often relatively limited. This project will apply and further develop computational modeling techniques to integrate contextual factors among the types of context described above to arrive at more comprehensive accounts of effects of contextual factors on language variation and change.

Eligibility: This is important!

The vacancy is open to applicants of all nationalities who comply with the mobility requirement and the degree


  • applicants must not have resided in the country of the CASCADE university that will host them (university of the main supervisor, Germany in this case) for more than 12 months in the 36 months preceding appointment
  • applicants must not hold a doctoral degree in any other field or have failed a corresponding doctoral examination at another higher education institution.

More information about the Network

CASCADE is committed to creating an environment in which all talents can develop to their maximum potential,

regardless of gender, age, cultural origin, nationality or disability. We particularly encourage candidates from

traditionally underrepresented groups to apply.

CASCADE is advertising positions for 10 candidates within its network, who will be housed across the five

participating universities. While applications are welcome to apply for more than one project, applications for each

position must be submitted separately. In the event an applicant does apply for more than one position and has a

particular preference, this should be indicated by email to PD Dr. Stefania Degaetano-Ortlieb. Applicants are

encouraged to only apply for projects for which they are ideally qualified and suitable. The recruitment process will

be done centrally by the CASCADE selection committee.

Job requirements and responsibilities

·        Participation in the general training programme of the doctoral network (kick-off, monthly online research meetings, annual workshops and schools, and final conference)

·        Collaboration with a multidisciplinary research group focused on the intersection of Computational Linguistics, Linguistics, and Digital Humanities.

·        Creation of a computational approach to model contextual factors.

·        Large-scale analysis of effects of contextual factors on modeling language variation and change.

·        Participation in joint publications and engagement in academic service.

·        The successful candidate will be expected to participate in a series of international conferences and

workshops, as well as undertake secondments in Germany and abroad.

Your academic qualifications

·        Completed university studies in Digital Humanities, Computational Linguistics, Data Science, AI/NLP, Information Science, or related fields, held by time of appointment

·        Language skills (according to GER): English – B2

The successful candidate will also be expected to:

  • Demonstrated experience in applying computational methods to textual data (essential);
  • Familiarity with eighteenth-century English data sources (desirable)
  • Capability to bridge the gap between data science and the humanities (essential);
  • Enthusiasm for inter- and multidisciplinary research and ability to work independently and collaboratively
  • (essential);
  • Strong research, analytical, and organizational skills (essential);
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills (essential);
  • A good command of English is mandatory;
  • Language skills (according to GER): English B2

What we can offer you:

  • A flexible work schedule allowing you to balance work and family
  • Interdisciplinary supervision and structured PhD training
  • An occupational health management model with numerous attractive options, such as our university sports program
  • A broad range or further education and professional development programmes (e.g. language courses)

Applicants are requested to enclose the following documents in English with their application:

  1. A curriculum vitae, including any publications (max. 10 pages);
  2. A cover statement outlining the applicant’s ambitions for Diachronic development of text types in the English Language and the wider CASCADE network (max. 2 pages);
  3. A single-authored writing sample from your previous studies (any length).

We look forward to receiving your meaningful online application (in a PDF file) by 29.03.2024 (extension is planned) to Please include the reference number W2440 in the subject line of the e-mail.

If you have any questions, please contact us for assistance.

Your contact:

PD Dr. Stefania Degaetano-Ortlieb

Assistant Professor (Akademische Rätin)

Department of Language Science and Technology

Saarland University

Campus A2.2

66123 Saarbrücken