PhD student - Meertens Institute-KNAW - Amsterdam

PhD student - Meertens Institute-KNAW - Amsterdam

Published Deadline Location
11 Sep 29 Sep Amsterdam

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Job description

The PhD position is part of the NWO project 'Spread the new(s)'.
The research will be conducted under the supervision of prof.dr. Nicoline van der Sijs (Meertens Institute/Radboud Universiteit) and prof.dr. Helen de Hoop (Radboud Universiteit).

Summary of the project:
In the first half of the 17th century, writers and grammarians formulated tentative prescriptive rules for a Dutch standard language. According to Haugen's model of standardisation (1966) this means that they selected and codified the form of the standard language. During the 17th century the standard language was elaborated for use in all domains and by all social classes. Up until now the factors determining its functional expansion have not been systematically investigated, largely because of a lack of relevant research data.

The project Spread the new(s) proposes to study the elaboration and acceptance of the Dutch standard language, based on a completely new, unique text corpus of manually transcribed 17th-century newspapers, containing 17 million words.

The main research question is: What (socio)linguistic factors are decisive in the functional implementation of a standard language? We hypothesize that newspapers played a crucial role in the expansion of the standard languageas the first mass medium read by all social classes. By comparing newspapers with fiction, non-fiction, religious texts and letters written by different social classes, we will be able to determine which factors were responsible for spreading the Dutch standard language and what the role of newspapers was.


Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)


Research master (historical) linguistics, good knowledge  of 17th-century Dutch, experience with corpus linguistics; (some) knowledge of a programming language such as Python and of computational modelling is an advantage.

Conditions of employment

The appointment at the KNAW for the Meertens Institute concerns an employment contract for the period of 1 year, with the prospect of an extension to 4 years. Starting date as soon as possible.

For the PhD, the salary in the first year amounts to € 2.325,00 and increases to € 2.972,00 in the fourth year (scale P CAO Dutch Universities) for a 38-hour working week.

The KNAW offers attractive secondary employment conditions, such as 8.3% end-of-year bonus, 8% holiday bonus, a good pension scheme, 6 weeks of annual leave and the possibility to buy/sell days off.


Meertens Institute-KNAW

The Meertens Institute studies and documents the Dutch language and Dutch culture.

In its research, the Meertens Institute focuses on:

  • language variation
  • oral culture
  • cultural diversity, identity and change. 

The Meertens Institute aims to contribute to a better understanding of language and culture, in particular language diversity and dynamics. It has a library containing several different collections and an extensive documentation system with sizeable databases. 


  • PhD
  • Language and culture
  • 30.4—38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • AT2019-057


Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)

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Oudezijds Achterburgwal 185, 1012 CJ, Amsterdam

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