Researcher in comparative-historical linguistics of North Germanic with a focus on plant names

About the position

A one-year full-time researcher position in North Germanic comparative and historical linguistics is available at the Natural History Museum (NHM), University of Oslo (UiO).

The position is available from January 1st 2020.

The announced position is part of the Nordic People and Plants project (https://www.nhm.uio.no/english/research/projects/people-and-plants/). The project is funded by the Norwegian Research Council and runs from November 2018 until October 2021.

Nordic People and Plants investigates the development of Nordic biodiversity through human interference from the Viking age until today. The project aims to rediscover and understand the evolution of Nordic plant traditions, by explaining the origins of diversity of selected plants. People have always been dependent on plants, using them as food, animal fodder, medicine, or as materials for clothing, tools and buildings. Throughout history, plants have shaped how people build, dress, and cure diseases. In turn, people have influenced biodiversity by cultivating and introducing new plant species, but they have also caused plants to go extinct. Currently, a decline in plant diversity world-wide threatens our well-being and the ecosystems we depend on, making it all the more pressing to better understand these human-plant relationships. In this project, plant names, archaeobotanical sources, iconographical sources and textual descriptions will all be systematized and analyzed. The project is based on close collaboration between the humanities and natural sciences. This cooperation will contribute to a comprehensive understanding of human relationships with plants and contribute to safeguarding Nordic plant traditions for the future.

The candidate’s work for the project will be to improve quantitative phylogenies of the North Germanic language family, then study the diversity of plant names. Detailed qualitative classifications already exist, as well as formal representations such as: https://glottolog.org/resource/languoid/id/nort3160 . These are not formally quantitative or time-calibrated, however, as needed to combine such language trees with phylogenetic analyses on other levels in this project, beyond linguistics. Specifically, the improved phylogeny will be used for comparative phylogenetic analyses of cultural and ethnobotanical data. Current phylogenies are not expressed in terms of probability distributions, so that instances of conflicting ancestry signals, contact or dialect continua, all prevalent within North Germanic, can still be tractable for those further quantitative analyses. The candidate’s work improving quantitative phylogenies of the North Germanic language family will contribute to addressing these issues.

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Work tasks

The candidate’s tasks will be as follows:

1) To improve the resolution of existing Glottolog data-set of cognacy in basic vocabulary for a range of North Germanic languages (and some other Germanic languages), by adding a range of new meanings, both general and specifically vernacular botanical terms. Additional meanings and sets of vocabulary will be decided in discussion with other team members. (Dedicated software and training will be provided by other team members.)

2) Expand the Glottolog data set also by covering additional North Germanic languages such as Elfdalian and Norn (as far as surviving data permit).

3) Determine the cognacy (or loanword) relationships between all lexemes in these general and botanical meanings across all languages covered.

4) In conjunction with other team members including experts in language phylogenetics, set up and run the phylogenetic analyses of the new, much extended data-set.

5) Analyse the results, in combination with the methods and findings of qualitative comparative-historical linguistics on North Germanic, to help understand the evolution and borrowing (vertical and horizontal transmission) of plant names through the historical divergence of the North Germanic languages.

The candidate will work in the research group of associate professor Anneleen Kool at the Plant Evolution and DNA Metabarcoding group (PET), Natural History Museum, University of Oslo. The PET group addresses cutting-edge research questions in plant evolution and biogeography using genomic and DNA metabarcoding data from modern and ancient samples and state-of-the-art phylogenetic methods. The Kool group within the PET group combines ethnobotany with studies on historical human influence on plant distribution using comparative phylogenetic methods. The candidate will also work closely with Paul Heggarty and Simon Greenhill at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena (Germany) and is expected to spend some time at their lab.

Qualification requirements

  • PhD-level education within the field of linguistics.
  • Documented strong quantitative and database skills.
  • Ideally a specialist in the history of the North Germanic languages and/or a native-speaker of one of those languages.
  • Experience with phylogenetic analyses is an advantage.
  • Fluent spoken and written English.
  • The candidate will work in an ambitious interdisciplinary setting which will require high flexibility and excellent social skills.

Candidates who will have completed their PhD degree before 1.10.2019 are eligible to apply.

We offer

  • an exciting research environment with opportunities for academic development
  • salary NOK 523 200 – 563 700 per annum depending on qualifications in a position as Researcher, position code 1109
  • attractive welfare benefits and a generous pension agreement, in addition to Oslo’s family-friendly environment with its rich opportunities for culture and outdoor activities

How to apply

The application must include:

  • Application letter describing the applicant’s qualifications and motivation for the position
  • CV (summarizing education, positions and academic work)
  • A complete list of publications
  • Copies of educational certificates
  • Names and contact details of 2-3 references (name, relation to candidate, e-mail and telephone number)

The application with attachments must be delivered through our electronic recruiting system — please follow the “apply for this job” link. Please note that all documents should be in English (or a Scandinavian language).

If invited for an interview, applicants will be asked to provide originals of educational certificates, diplomas or transcripts of records.

Formal regulations

Information about guidelines concerning appointment to post doctoral and research posts at UiO.

In accordance with the University of Oslo’s equal opportunities policy, we invite applications from all interested individuals regardless of gender or ethnicity.

The University of Oslo has an Acquisition of Rights Agreement for all employees for the purpose of securing intellectual property rights to research results, etc.

Pursuant to section 25, subsection 2, of the Freedom of Information Act, information concerning the applicant may be disclosed to the public, even if the applicant has requested not to appear on the list of applicants.

Contact information

Dr. Anneleen Kool, e-mail: anneleen.kool@nhm.uio.no

Dr. Paul Heggarty: heggarty@shh.mpg.de

Dr. Irene Teixidor, e-mail: i.t.toneu@nhm.uio.no

For technical questions regarding the recruitment system, please contact HR-Adviser Thomas Brånå: thomas.brana@nhm.uio.no

Naturhistorie

About the University of Oslo 

The University of Oslo is Norway’s oldest and highest ranked educational and research institution, with 28 000 students and 7000 employees. With its broad range of academic disciplines and internationally recognised research communities, UiO is an important contributor to society.

The Natural History Museum at the University of Oslo is Norway’s most comprehensive natural history collection. For almost 200 years, preserved plant specimens, animal specimens, rocks, minerals and fossils have been collected, studied and preserved here. The museum is located at Økern and in the beautiful Botanical Garden, which is not only popular for recreation, but is a scientific collection in itself.

Read the job description at the university homepage

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Deadline

15th September 2019

Post expires on Sunday September 15th, 2019