Sounding out ideas on language, vivid sensory words, and iconicity

Category: Academia

  • New personal site

    Almost 13 years ago, in 2007, this blog started as a sub-site on my personal web page. It soon took over most of my online presence and I moved it to its own domain. Now that I blog much less regularly, and have moved institutions, it’s useful again to have a personal academic web page. […]

  • Narrative CV as an experiment in convergent cultural evolution

    NWO introduces a narrative CV, and I have some thoughts. Sounds like a convoluted cultural evolution experiment: a high stakes game in which applicants and reviewers independently construe models of good narratives, everything passes through a reductive score bottleneck, and next generations never have direct access to prior rounds. Selection dichotomises continuous scores and only […]

  • Rethinking Marginality: panel on interjections & interaction at IPRA

    We’re convening a panel at the 16th International Pragmatics Conference in Hong Kong next week. This doubles as the inaugural workshop of my VIDI project Elementary Particles of Conversation. The workshop ties into the overall theme of the conference, which is “Pragmatics at the Margins”. Have a look at the panel programme & abstracts (PDF), […]

  • The role of serendipity in shaping fundamental research

    After much postponement, writing the final report for my NWO Veni grant (2015-2018) turned out to be an unexpected pleasure. It made me realise a couple of things — key among them the role of serendipity in shaping fundamental research. The project was called “Towards a science of linguistic depiction”. Looking at the publications that […]

  • Sign names and theories of naming

    Every time I learn new name signs —e.g. during my UCL visit hosted by @gab_hodge— I’m struck by how they call into question Searle’s (spoken English-based) arguments about how proper names work. Many sign names appear to be descriptive (or at least originate as descriptions) Moreover, often one gets the ‘baptismal story’ along with learning […]

  • John Benjamins collective volumes linguistics CSL style

    Linguists will know John Benjamins as one of the nicer academic publishing houses, not quite so terrible as Elsevier or other profiteering behemoths, and one with really good typography to boot. Iconicity afficionados will probably know the Iconicity in Language and Literature series published by Benjamins. One of my first articles on ideophones and iconicity appeared […]

  • Slides for a hands-on Zotero workshop

    One of the key tasks scientists need to master is how to manage bibliographic information: collecting relevant literature, building a digital library, and handling citations and bibliographies during writing. This tutorial introduces Zotero (, an easy to use reference management tool made by scholars for scholars. The tutorial covers the basics of using Zotero for […]

  • How often does Google Scholar update citation counts?

    TL;DR: every other day. Read on for details. Many scientists use Google Scholar to find papers, get alerts about new work, and —if they have a profile— display a publication list which tracks citations. What is the Google Scholar update frequency? It occurred to me that we have a perfect way to check this in […]

  • Firth on the analysis of conversation (1935): sequence and social accountability

    Here are some insights from J.R. Firth in 1935 that offer an interesting early outlook on language use in social interaction. Firth (1890-1960) was an expert in phonetics and prosody, but always stressed the importance of the larger context in which words and utterances occurred. In this piece, he turns to conversation as a source of […]

  • Waarom ik mijn werk als wetenschapper zo leuk vind

    Een hele eer: de redactie van New Scientist heeft me geselecteerd voor hun top 25 van talentvolle jonge wetenschappers. Er zit ook nog een populariteitswedstrijd aan vast waarin één ‘winnaar’ aangewezen wordt op grond van een vakjury en publieksstemmen (wat natuurlijk vooral een slimme manier is van New Scientist om aandacht te genereren voor hun merk). Geen […]

  • Facts and and fiction about iconicity: the story of ideophones

    Here’s the abstract for the keynote lecture I’ll be giving at the 11th Symposium on Iconicity in Language and Literature in Brighton, April 6-8, 2017 (site). The notion of iconicity has seen a remarkable increase in prominence in recent years. No longer the marginal phenomenon it once was, it has become a canvas upon which we […]

  • How promotes poor metadata and plays to our vanity

    A while back some low quality citations started showing up on Google Scholar. They had titles like “CHAPTER 2 draft — email” and it was hard find actual bibliographic metadata. Google Scholar seemed to have scraped random PDFs uploaded on and decided it was worth counting the citations in them even in the absence of proper metadata. I […]

  • Why PLOS ONE needs page proofs

    Note: I prepared this posting in August 2015, when PLOS ONE was due to publish a paper by us and I wanted to make sure they’d avoid the stupid typesetting errors they made in our 2013 paper. I used the numbers to convince them to show us proofs beforehand. To my surprise, they did, and I never got […]

  • Some things you need to know about Google Scholar

    Summary: Google Scholar is great, but its inclusiveness and mix of automatically updated and hand-curated profiles means you should never take any of its numbers at face value. Case in point: the power couple Prof. Et Al and Dr. A. Author, whose profiles I created following Scholar’s recommended settings (and a bit of manual embellishment). If you have a […]

  • Pragmatic Typology: invited panel at IPrA 2015 in Antwerp

    Pragmatic Typology: invited panel at IPrA 2015 in Antwerp

    Together with Giovanni Rossi I’ve organised an invited panel at the 14th International Pragmatic Conference in Antwerp, July 2015. Contributors include Jörg Zinken & Arnulf Deppermann; Sandy Thompson & Yoshi Ono; Stef Spronck; Giovanni Rossi, Simeon Floyd, Julija Baranova, Joe Blythe, Mark Dingemanse, Kobin Kendrick & N.J. Enfield; Ilana Mushin; and Mark Dingemanse. More information […]

  • Conceptual Foundations of Language Science publishes its first book

    Two months ago we started a new book series with the innovative open access publisher Language Science Press: Conceptual Foundations of Language Science. We’re proud to announce that the series published its first book this week. The book, Natural causes of language is introduced here by Nick Enfield: You can download your own copy of the book directly […]

  • Wetenschapper+Weblog


    Gisteren was ik op de eerste vakconferentie Wetenschapscommunicatie in de Van Nelle Ontwerpfabriek in Rotterdam. Samen met een aantal collega’s sprak ik in een sessie over ‘wat motiveert wetenschappers?’. Mjin bijdrage ging over Wetenschapper + Weblog. Hier is mijn boodschap in 79 woorden: Bloggen is geweldig, roept de technofetisjist. Zonde van de tijd, bromt de technopessimist. […]