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Internships in the “Language and Number” project

Language and Number

“Language and Number” is part of the NWO Horizon project "Knowledge and Culture". It focuses on the linguistic representation of cognitive systems of number, one of the main instruments and results being the "Typology of Number Systems” database.

Recent research shows that the core knowledge system of number consists of two subsystems — the Approximative Number System and the Object Tracking System. Some studies suggest that language plays a crucial role in the integration of these two subsystems (Spelke 2011). However, linguistic properties of numeric expressions in languages of the world are still waiting for a systematic study. The typological database on numerals is meant to provide crucial input for research in this field, exploring the limits of cross-linguistic variation in the domain of numeric constructions.

The information in the database is organised along two axes:

1) the constructions (cardinal construction, ordinal construction, etc.)

2) the number line (i.e. whether a construction is limited to / has special properties within a certain sub-range of the number line). This design allows to make generalisations on the special linguistic status of different numerosities across languages and constructions, such as low numbers (1-4), or 'round numbers' (10, 100, etc.), etc.


As of 1 April 2015, several internships are available in the database subproject. The work on the database involves

  • consulting the existing grammatical descriptions of different languages
  • adjusting questionnaires to the grammatical profile of a language under study
  • analysing the questionnaires filled in by the speakers according to the parameters of the database
  • entering the resulting data into the database using the existing editing interface.
  • looking for speakers of relevant languages and conducting interviews with the speakers

Interns are expected to participate in any one or several tasks listed above, depending on the needs of the database project and/or the intern's preferences, under supervision of the other project members.


We are looking for MA students as well as advanced BA students in linguistics.

Practical information

The duration of an internship is 3-4 months but can be adapted individually. The Meertens Instituut offers a workplace, supervision and a monthly allowance of € 200 (for a full time internship).

For more information please contact dr. Lisa Bylinina ( and prof. dr. Sjef Barbiers (

Photo by Andreas Rodler, Abacus (