Anyone with a Master’s degree can, in principle, apply for a PhD track. The procedure for admission to the PhD track is conducted by means of job applications. However, students with a particular interest in an academic career are advised to choose for a research master’s programme, since these programmes explicitly prepare students for research at the PhD level.
Linguistic research at Leiden University dates back to 1598, when Justus Lipsius compared the Persian vocabulary with Dutch and Latin and later Marcus Zuerius van Boxhorn (1612-1653) argued that Latin, Greek, Slavic, Baltic, Germanic, Celtic, Indian and Iranian are interrelated. In 1974, Indo-European was established as an independent subject, along with a curriculum in Comparative Linguistics, which includes the Afro-Asian, Altaic, Amerindian, Caucasian, and Sino-Tibetan language families.
Research in Linguistics is primarily conducted at the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics (LUCL), which unites the linguists of the Faculty of Humanities of Leiden University.
Leiden University is very active in the clinical and experimental area, having excellent lab facilities available, and a cohort of staff, all of whom have a high level of expertise in the field. PhD research is further facilitated by the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, a recently established inter-faculty research institute at Leiden University.
The central component of the individual PhD track consists of carrying out a research project under expert supervision, and writing a dissertation reporting on this research. PhD students are directly associated with a research institute. In addition, they follow a number of courses, some of which are offered by the relevant national research school.
Information about application and programmes can be found at the Leiden Humanities Gradute School website.
Bobby Ruijgrok, ‘The prosody of wh-in-situ in Mandarin Chinese’.
I am intrigued by the relation between linguistic form and meaning. In my MA thesis I combine phonetics and syntax – the aspects that comprise linguistic form. It is an investigation in the prosody of Mandarin Chinese sentences which contain the wh-words ‘what’, ‘who’, and ‘which’.
Typically, these words may occur at sites where we would expect their declarative counterparts as we can see in (1): the objects (between brackets) have equal positions in a statement and a question. This fascinating phenomenon is known as wh-in-situ.
(1) a. Hufei mai-le [yi-ben shu].
Hufei buy-ASP one-CL book
‘Hufei bought a book.’
b. Hufei mai-le [shenme]?
Hufei buy-ASP what
‘What did Hufei buy?’
My research focusses on the production of Mandarin Chinese sentences such as (1a) and (1b). Do speakers make use of sentence prosody to communicate sentence type differences? Ultimately, we are eager to know at what point a Mandarin Chinese listener can decide that he/she is processing a statement or question.
With respect to Hufei maile in (1) – to date – it is unclear whether there is a phonetic difference between a statement and a question. Challenging aspect of my research is that Mandarin Chinese is a tone language. At word level pitch, the phonetic parameter that is also employed in intonation, is used to distinguish between four lexical tones. Therefore, I designed, recorded, and analysed stimuli that are minimal pairs.
While wh-in-situ has been fleshed out primarily in theoretical terms, my study may set the stage for further experimental research into mechanisms that humans apply in deriving and interpreting of sentences.
Bobby Ruijgrok, MA Linguistics