John Huisman

John is a PhD student at Radboud University, working on semantic variation and change in the Japonic language family. For his thesis, he is conducting fieldwork across Japan to collect data on colour vocabulary, the body part lexicon, and expressions for cutting and breaking events. While his project mainly uses the data for cross-linguistic comparative work, it also contributes to the documentation and description of the endangered Ryukyuan languages spoken in the south of Japan.

Growing up in a Limburgish-speaking family, his awareness of and interest in language and linguistic variation started at a young age. Before starting his PhD, he studied Japanese at Zuyd University Maastricht and received a Research Master's degree in Language and Communication at Tilburg University. During this time, he worked as a research assistant on several projects involving the language of perception (colour, smell and taste).

In his spare time, John enjoys playing guitar, cooking—and eating!—all kinds of dishes, as well as cycling.

Hot stuff: Talking about temperature

The weather. Ugh, yeah I know, the weather. Possibly the most common thing we all like to complain about and also a (stereo?) typical topic of small talk. In every language course I have ever taken, words and phrases describing weather phenomena are among the first I learned. Speakers of languages all around the world love talking about it and with the UN climate report released recently, I cannot imagine us stopping any time soon. However, we don’t all talk about the weather in the same way.

Studying meaning: wrapping our heads around our ‘arms’

With online group classes, self-paced mobile apps and dedicated Youtube channels, learning a new language never seemed easier. The opportunities seem endless—perhaps even overwhelmingly so. Although, learning a new language is more than just learning new words for the same things. Sometimes, there are also new meanings to be learned.