Apr 072021
Job Title:
Postdoctoral Research Fellow / Computational Linguist
Computational Linguistics; Indigenous Language Documentation

Job Rank:
Post Doc / Computational Linguist

Specialty Areas:
Computational Linguistics

The SSHRC-funded (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada), university-community Partnership “21st Century Tools for Indigenous Languages” invites applications for a full-time Postdoctoral Fellowship, beginning in Fall 2021 (start date negotiable). Position is tenable for 2 years, subject to review after the 1st year.

This 7-year Partnership is led by the Alberta Language Technology Lab (ALTLab) in the Department of Linguistics, University of Alberta. Its partners include 13 institutions and Indigenous language communities and 31 individual researchers and educators in Canada, the United States, and Norway. Further details of our Partnership can be found at: https://21c.tools and http://altlab.artsrn.ualberta.ca.

Members of our Partnership (https://21c.tools/people) have been developing computational models of the phonetics, morphology, lexis, and syntax of Indigenous languages in Canada and North America, starting with the Algonquian and the Dene language families, to create software applications that support their continued use in daily life by both speakers and learners. These include intelligent electronic dictionaries, spell-checkers, linguistically analyzed text collections, computer-aided language learning tools, as well as text-to-speech synthesizers and optical character recognition. The languages we have gotten the furthest with are Plains Cree (Algonquian) and Tsuut’ina (Dene).


The tasks of the Postdoc will include the following, allowing for variation based on the successful applicant’s competences and interests:

  • participation in/responsibility for the continued development of our existing computational morphological and phonetic models (primarily using finite-state technology) and end-user applications for the Algonquian and/or Dene and/or other Indigenous languages we are working with;
  • participation in/responsibility for the application of new computational methods (e.g. machine learning techniques such as neural networks) in the morphological and phonological modeling of these languages;
  • participation in/responsibility for the development of new computational morphological and phonetic models and applications for Indigenous languages other than the ones we are working on, preferably spoken in Canada;
  • partial training and supervision of undergraduate and graduate students (M.A/Ph.D level) in developing models, applications and resources for Indigenous languages;
  • engagement with Indigenous community consultants on collecting primary linguistic data and gathering feedback from field-testers;
  • participating in the dissemination of the results as publications in scientific journals; and
  • other administrative responsibilities.
    The postdoc is expected to work with and support the activities of multiple partners in the Partnership, and may be co-located or based at other Partners for part of their tenure. The Partnership has allocated dedicated funding to this end. The fellowship comes with an annual salary (in CAD) in line with SSHRC policies (https://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/funding-financement/programs-programmes/fellowships/postdoctoral-postdoctorale-eng.aspx), and benefits.

Successful applicants will have specialized in the computational modelling (text and/or speech) of morphologically rich languages, with a willingness to learn the essential morphological and phonetic characteristics of the languages we are working with.

The applicants should have recently completed, or be about to finish, a Ph.D degree in linguistics or an associated relevant discipline.

By the end of the Postdoc appointment, the successful applicant will have a set of skills allowing them to partner with Indigenous communities and field linguists to develop a range of sophisticated tools in support of language maintenance and revitalization.

Application Instructions:
The application should include:

  • a research statement (ca. 2 pages) outlining past experience and current research interests and, in particular, how these align with and contribute towards the goals of our Partnership project;
  • a Curriculum Vitae (with a List of Publications);
  • 1–3 relevant academic writing samples; and,
  • 3 letters of recommendation (sent directly to the Project Director, Dr. Arppe, by referees).
  • Moreover, applicants are REQUIRED to contact Dr. Arppe in advance to discuss their research plan and application.

Applications should be sent to our Partnership email (21ct4il@gmail.com). For inquiries please email Dr. Antti Arppe (arppe@ulberta.ca). Review of applications will begin by May 5, 2021, and will continue until the position is filled.

Application Deadline:
5-May-2021 (Open until filled)

Email Address for Applications:
Contact Information for Inquiries:
Dr. Antti Arppe (arppe@ualberta.ca)