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.
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)|
Several of our research findings have led to widespread media coverage. Some highlights are below. See here for a fuller list of international media coverage. My Dutch site also has a list focused on Dutch media, including radio & TV appearances.
- 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)
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.
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.
An age group leader oversees a festival in Akpafu-Mempeasem, Volta Region, Ghana. The Ashanti-inspired wreath, cowrie shells, and digital wristwatch work together to remind us that culture is a moving target, always renewing and reshaping itself. Finalist in the 2008 American Anthropological Association photo contest.