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Two PhD Candidates: Deaf Communication without a Shared Language

The two open PhD positions form part of a larger project investigating ‘international sign’ or ‘cross-signing’: the communication between signers who do not share any sign languages in their linguistic repertoires. The project considers two ...

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Comeniuslaan, Nijmegen, Gelderland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
34 - 38 uur


The two open PhD positions form part of a larger project investigating ‘international sign’ or ‘cross-signing’: the communication between signers who do not share any sign languages in their linguistic repertoires. The project considers two extremes in terms of the amount of experience that signers have: on the one hand inexperienced deaf signers, and on the other hand experienced conference interpreters. The PhD candidates will be responsible for investigating the communicative strategies used by these two categories of signers, while post-docs will be responsible for investigating the level of communicative success achieved. Further team members are Onno Crasborn (principal investigator; hearing), Merel van Zuilen (research assistant; deaf), and Maya de Wit (junior researcher and interpreting consultant; hearing).

Position 1: You will be responsible for investigating linguistic strategies used in one-on-one interactions between deaf signers with little international experience. You will collect data from Dutch signers interacting with signers from Flanders, Wallonia and Shanghai, and analyse this data at various linguistic levels (phonology, lexicon, morphosyntax). In addition, you will study how the selection of lexical forms is negotiated.

Position 2: You will be responsible for analysing interpreting strategies used by some of the most experienced sign language interpreters who interpret from English to international sign. You will be responsible for collecting data from international sign interpreters, conduct post-hoc interviews with the interpreters, study how new lexical items are introduced, and investigate the interaction between interpreter and audience.

Like the other team members, you will be responsible for exploiting the research outcomes to the benefit of organisations like WFD and EUD, as well as for improving interpreter training curricula.


- MA degree in linguistics or psycholinguistics;
- excellent (CEFR level C2) to native skills in at least one sign language;
- knowledge of additional sign languages (in particular ASL and BSL) is preferred;
- extensive experience with international communication with deaf signers with other language backgrounds;
- for the first position: experience with linguistic analysis of a sign language at various linguistic levels;
- for the second position: experience with working as an interpreter is recommended;
- experience working as part of a team;
- experience in annotating video data with ELAN or similar software;
- good skills in writing academic texts (such as a Master’s thesis) in English.


you will be appointed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your capabilities and achievements will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years
- you will be classified as a PhD candidate in the Dutch university job-ranking system (UFO)
the starting salary is €2.222 per month on a full-time basis, the salary will increase to €2.840 per month in the fourth year (P-scale)
Deaf candidates are explicitly encouraged to apply.

Additional information

Dr. O.A. (Onno) Crasborn, Associate Professor
+31 24 3611377

www.ru.nl/facultyofarts ; www.ru.nl/sign-lang

Radboud University


Strategically located in Europe, Radboud University is one of the leading academic communities in the Netherlands. A place with a personal touch, where top-flight education and research take place on a beautiful green campus in modern buildings with state-of-art facilities. Faculty of Arts The Faculty of Arts consists of ten departments in the areas of language and culture, history, history of arts, linguistics and communication and information studies, which together cater for about 2,400 students and collaborate closely in teaching and research.

Research at the Faculty of Arts is embedded in two research institutes: the Institute for Historical, Literary and Cultural Studies (HLCS) and the Centre for Language Studies (CLS). State-of-the-art research facilities are available to all researchers.

The Sign Language Linguistics research group headed by Onno Crasborn forms part of CLS, and has a 15-year history of deaf-hearing collaboration on the study of NGT (Sign Language of the Netherlands). The group is active in linguistic analysis and psycholinguistic studies of NGT, the creation of language resources such as Signbank and the Corpus NGT, and the study of Kata Kolok.

To facilitate deaf-hearing interaction with people outside the group, Dutch public services provide good interpreting services for any type of meeting, including conference visits and data collection travel abroad if needed.

No commercial propositions please.