[Elsnet-list] PHD position ILLC/Universiteit van Amsterdam

R van Rooij R.A.M.vanRooij at uva.nl
Wed Dec 1 16:51:21 CET 2004

Call for Applications

The ILLC/Department of Philosophy of the Universiteit van Amsterdam 
offers a PhD position with the project "The Economics of Language. 
Language Use and the Evolution of Linguistic Conventions", which is an 
NWO funded Vidi project, with Dr. Robert van Rooij as the principal 
investigator. The PhD position will be mainly about the evolution of 
linguistic conventions. A short description of the project can be found 

We sollicit applications for this position from candidates with a 
master degree (now, or soon) in formal linguistics (e.g. semantics, but 
also philosophy of language), learning and dynamical systems, and/or 
game theory, and with proven expertise in the areas covered by the 
project. (See the project description.)

The application should comprise:

  -> a curriculum vitae
  -> reference(s) for recommendation
  -> a sample of written work
  -> a short statement of research interest

Submissions packages should be here in Amsterdam before:

  -> January 20, 2005

Applications should be sent to:

  -> Dr. Robert van Rooij
     ILLC/Department of Humanities
     Nieuwe Doelenstraat 15
     NL 1012 CP, Amsterdam
     The Netherlands
  -> or by email to
     "r.a.m.vanRooij at uva.nl"

A summary of the PhD project:

In this project we will investigate which factors are favorable to the 
emergence and sustenance of linguistic rules, and more in particular 
how language use influences linguistic interpretation rules.  In 
historical linguistics (e.g. Traugott, Croft) and psycholinguistics 
(e.g. Thomasello) it is argued that conversational implicatures play a 
crucial role in the emergence and acquisition of grammar. Linguistic 
rules are seen as automated, conventionalized language-processing 
devices, which turn pragmatic context-driven inferences more 
independent of context. A rigorous formal account, however, is still 
lacking. Artificial Intelligence has given rise to an experimental 
approach towards the evolution of meaningful communication (e.g. 
Hurford, Kirby, Steels). It studies how linguistic rules (a shared 
lexicon, and some rudimentary combinatorial principles) can 
spontaneously emerge from actual communication. The results of these 
experiments are very appealing, but also in need of theoretical 

Evolutionary game theory (EGT) - developed in biology as a 
formalization of evolution via natural selection -, appears to be an 
attractive theory to provide this theoretical explication (e.g. Nowak). 
Indeed, economists and philosophers have shown that EGT can provide 
natural explanations for certain social conventions.

The main goal of the PhD project will be to extend the coverage of the 
linguistic rules as developed in experimental approaches of the 
evolution of language   (e.g. Hurford, Kirby, Steels), for instance by 
explaining under which circumstances quantificational expressions and 
modalities are likely to emerge, and to give the experimental results a 
theoretical underpinning in EGT.

For more details, contact Robert van Rooij: r.a.m.vanRooij at uva.nl

Robert van Rooij
Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC)
University of Amsterdam
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 15
1012 CP Amsterdam
homepage: http://staff.science.uva.nl/~vanrooy/
tel: ++31-(0)20-5254551.
fax: ++31-(0)20-5254503
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