Post-doctoral researcher in Machine Translation for sign and oral languages

Post-doctoral researcher in Machine Translation for sign and oral languages

Published Deadline Location
11 Jan 24 Jan Tilburg

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The Department of Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence at Tilburg University is looking for an enthusiastic new colleague:

Post-doctoral researcher in Machine Translation for sign and oral languages (0,8 fte, 3 years).

This post-doctoral researcher will work within the H2020-funded project “SignON”.

Job description

SignON is a user-centric and community-driven project that aims to facilitate the exchange of information among deaf and hard of hearing, and hearing individuals across Europe targeting the Irish, British, Dutch, Flemish and Spanish Sign and English, Irish, Dutch, Spanish oral languages. As such, it looks into the research and development of a novel automatic translation service for sign and oral languages that will be effective and easily accessible. As one of the 17 partners of the consortium, Tilburg University will lead the research on machine translation (MT). 

We offer a 3-year contract at 0,8 fte, to research novel multi-modal and multilingual methods for MT. Within the scope of this research, topics such as MT with low-resource data, integration of linguistic and contextual information, adapting and adopting pre-trained language models, hybridization of different paradigms to MT, as well as automatic post-editing and quality estimation will be addressed. This position is hosted at the Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence (CSAI) department, Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences, and will be supervised by dr. Dimitar Shterionov and prof. dr. Pieter Spronck. 

The work will be centered around the following objectives:

  • To research and develop (symbolic and / or distributional) multimodal and multilingual intermediate representations suitable for both oral and sign languages
  • To combine symbolic and distributional representations into a hybrid  representation bringing together the strong sides of the former ones
  • To investigate a pipeline for transitioning from language specific meaning representations to language independent meaning representations
  • To investigate quality estimation and automatic post techniques to effectively assess and improve the quality of spoken, sign and written language representations in the process of translation
  • To research and propose a mapping between the intermediate representation and a representation suitable for text to speech synthesis or for sign language synthesis
  • To develop a pipeline for updating the intermediate representation with new data

The candidate will work on selected tasks related to the aforementioned objectives in a close collaboration with other researchers within the consortium. This will allow the candidate to expand their professional network and learn from the different professionals in this consortium. 

Job description

  • Develop and conduct research;
  • Write (at least) three peer-reviewed papers for submission to international journals or leading conference proceedings
  • Give presentations about study results on a regular basis on workshops and conferences;
  • Co-organize (project) workshops;
  • Participate in all project related activities including co-creation activities;


Tilburg University


Candidates for this position should have a PhD degree in:

  • The field of Artificial Intelligence and / or Cognitive Science with focus in at least one of the following fields: computational linguistics, natural language processing, machine translation, machine learning and deep learning.
  • Or a field closely related to sign language and deaf studies and (demonstrable) affinity with language technology, computational techniques and machine learning / deep learning.

In addition, you:

  • are collaborative and like to work in a team;  
  • have a proactive and goal-directed attitude, good organizational skills, and the ability to get things done;

Knowledge and experience with sign language and / or proficiency in at least Dutch, Irish or Spanish is highly preferred given the nature of the data.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 3 year at 0.8 fte:

  • Starting date is negotiable but no later than beginning of March 2021.
  • The selected candidate will start with a contract at Tilburg University at the Department of Communication and Cognition for one year, concluded by an evaluation. Upon a positive outcome of the first-year evaluation, the candidate will be offered an employment contract for an additional 2 years.
  • The candidate will be ranked in the Dutch university job ranking system (UFO) as Researcher 4. The starting gross salary for a full-time appointment is (minimally) €3217,- up to (maximally) €4402,- per month.
  • A holiday allowance of 8% and an end-of-year bonus of 8,3% (annually) 
  • Researchers from outside the Netherlands may qualify for a temporary tax-free allowance equal to 30% of their taxable salary. The University will apply for such an allowance on their behalf;
  • The University will provide assistance in finding suitable accommodation (for foreign employees);
  • Tilburg University is rated among the top Dutch employers and offers very good fringe benefits (it is one of the best non-profit employers in the Netherlands), also including excellent technical infrastructure, savings schemes and excellent sport facilities. The collective labor agreement of the Dutch Universities applies.


Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences

Research and education at the Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences (TSHD) has a unique focus on humans in the context of the globalizing digital society, on the development of artificial intelligence and interactive technologies, on their impact on communication, culture and society, and on moral and existential challenges that arise. The School of Humanities and Digital Sciences consists of four departments: Communication and Cognition, Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence, Culture Studies and Philosophy; several research institutes and a faculty office. Also the University College Tilburg is part of the School. Each year around 275 students commence a Bachelor or (Pre) Master Program. The School has approximately 2000 students and 250 employees.
Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences


  • Research, development, innovation
  • Behaviour and society; Language and culture
  • max. 32 hours per week
  • €3217—€4402 per month
  • 17107



Warandelaan 2, 5037 AB, Tilburg

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