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.

The International Decade of Indigenous Languages

Welcome to a new decade! The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed the period between 2022 and 2032 to be the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (IDIL 2022-2032). Through this, the UN wants to push the international community to provide the resources that are necessary to support the preservation, revitalisation, and promotion of indigenous languages–languages native to a particular region and spoken by people who have traditionally lived there, which are often reduced to the status of a minority language. One important step in this is to raise global awareness of the critical situation many indigenous languages are in, which is important for both their speakers and linguistics as a field. More information about ongoing efforts can be found on the IDIL website. In this blog, I’ll explain why languages go extinct and why it is important to protect them.

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.