Language is what makes us human. Much of my research revolves around how we use language to make sense of the world together. If you’re looking for an expert on language and communication, or for an experienced public speaker, feel free to get in touch.
- IEEE Spectrum covers our work on openness in large language models: “Llama and ChatGPT Are Not Open-Source” (2023)
- James Harbeck covers the notion of liminal signs in The Week: “The not-word you’re always saying” (2021)
- My piece on brain-to-brain interfaces was selected for translation and inclusion in the 2020 In Review issue of the German edition of MIT Technology Review: Der Raum zwischen unseren Köpfen
- Video: Our communication: conversation with Robert Zatorre at the 2020 Heineken Awards, october 2020
- I wrote about distributed agency and the future of language for Aeon: Why language remains the most flexible brain-to-brain interface
Several of our research findings have led to widespread media coverage. Some highlights are below. See ‘In the news’ for a fuller list of international media coverage. My Dutch site also has a list focused on Dutch media, including radio & TV appearances.
Fresh! Coverage of our ‘acts of kindness’ paper (2023):
- 📰 Business Insider: Humans Are Wired for Cooperation (May 2023)
- 📰 Sydney Morning Herald: Humans ask for help every couple of minutes, and we mainly say yes (Apr 2023)
- 📱 Vice: Why are letters shaped the way they are? (Feb 2022)
- 🎤 GlobalNews, The Simi Sara show: Words and sounds that cross languages (Jan 2022)
- 📰 The Irish Examiner: What the Irish language has in common with Mongolian, Basque and Dutch (Jan 2022)
- 📱 The Week: The not-word you’re always saying (Dec 2021)
- 📺 Heineken Prizes: Our communication: in conversation with Robert Zatorre (Oct 2020)
- 📰 New Scientist: The hidden code that helped complex language evolve (PDF) (Oct 2020)
- 📱 Heineken Prizes: Mark Dingemanse awarded the Young Scientists Award in Humanities (Jun 2020)
- 📱 IFL Science: It turns out most of us have this mild form of synesthesia (Apr 2019)
- Daily Mail: Scientists find we link vowels with certain colours (Apr 2019)
- 📱 Aeon: In the beginning was the word, and the word was embodied (Jan 2019)
- 📰 New York Times: Think You Always Say Thank You? (May 2018)
- 🎤 Talk the Talk podcast: Not so arbitrary (Oct 2015)
- 📰 The Atlantic: People everywhere navigate misunderstandings in roughly the same three ways (Sep 2015)
- 📰 NPR: A whole other kind of linguistic universal (Sep 2015)
- 📱 Seeker: The One Universal Word (Nov 2013)
- 📰 New Statesman: What’s the one world that’s the same in every language? (Nov 2013)
- 📰 Süddeutsche Zeitung: ‘Hä?’ — Das wichtigste Wort der Welt (Nov 2013)
- 📰 New York Times: The Syllable Everyone Recognises (Nov 2013)
More complete list of media coverage: in the news.
Some current and past outreach projects:
|🌈||How do your senses work together? National Survey on language and synaesthesia (with Tessa van Leeuwen)|
|🖼️||A Picture of Science: photo contest and exhibition visualising the language sciences (with Jeremy Hammond)|
|📺||TV:Het Klokhuis & De Kennis van Nu|
|🧪||Taal in de reageerbuis: Public science experiments on language evolution (with Séan Roberts & Tessa Verhoef)|
Art & science
Our research on Huh? as a universal word inspired an installation by artist Pauline Wiersema (Design Academy Eindhoven). The piece aims to shake things up by placing the word ‘Huh?’ in unexpected contexts such as office buildings and public spaces.
London Symphony Orchestra composer Jasmin Kent Rodgman was inspired by our work on universal words and named her music+spoken word composition HUH ‘to celebrate music as a universal language’ (source)
Cloud of Identity by video artist Geert Mul and composer Michel Banabila features a soundtrack with voices and vowel sounds from languages all around the world. It was exhibited in Rotterdam, Amsterdam, London and Beirut. I served as a linguistic consultant on the project.
The Heineken Prizes honour the best in Arts and Sciences. I am honoured to have been awarded the Heineken Young Scientist Award in Humanities. The jury praised my “unconventional questions, dedication to open science, and science communication efforts.”