Recent Posts

Synesthesia: a colourful alphabet!

For some people, the name of their best friend is bright green. For others, their telephone number has the colours of the rainbow. This may sound odd to most of you, but for four percent of people around the world this is a daily experience known as synesthesia. People with synesthesia are also known as synesthetes. For them, particular stimuli from their daily life can elicit multiple sensations; for instance, hearing a specific musical tone can elicit the perception of a specific colour or touching an object can elicit the sensation of taste.

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Conversation is not like a game of ping pong

You might have noticed that when you’re having a conversation with another person, you take turns with them – you switch between producing your own sentence and listening to your partner producing theirs. This process seems fairly effortless. In fact, we often take turns with our partner without leaving long gaps between the end of their turn and the start of our own. Research suggests that there is some variability in turn-taking across languages. In Japanese the average gap between turns is around 7 milliseconds, while in Danish it is around 470 milliseconds. However, this gap is most commonly around 200 milliseconds, regardless of the language we speak.

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Do abstract concepts have abstract meanings?

In the language sciences, words like “freedom”, “justice”, and “peace” are classified as abstract concepts, because – unlike concrete words like “car” and “elephant” – they don’t refer to objects in the physical world. Recent studies reveal that in fact abstract concepts are rooted in our experience of emotion and social interaction, and may be less abstract than one may think!

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Variation in form and meaning across the Japonic language family with a focus on the Ryukyuan languages: An interview with Dr. John Huisman

Dr. John Huisman defended his thesis entitled ‘Variation in form and meaning across the Japonic language family with a focus on the Ryukyuan languages’ in March 2021. Luckily he was happy to answer some questions about it.

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Two languages, one mind: How bilingual children’s languages influence each other

Freya is a six-year-old girl living in London. She was born there, just like her dad, a lifelong Londoner. Freya’s mum, though, was born and raised in Nijmegen, in the Netherlands. Freya speaks both English and Dutch very well. When her dad picks her up after school, she’ll tell him, in English, what she’s learned that day, and when her mum picks her up, she’ll just as easily recount her adventures in Dutch. Every week, she talks to her Dutch grandma on the phone to tell her all about her new favorite animals, and with her friends, she fluently discusses the latest PAW Patrol episodes in English. Sometimes she uses a few Dutch words when she’s speaking English or vice versa. At breakfast, she may ask her dad: “Can I have more kaas?” (meaning “cheese”). So, even when she’s speaking in just one language, little clues can sometimes show that she is bilingual.

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