Having started to talk before I could walk, I remember my pre-schooler’s frustration at being unable to read. In my teens and later, I learnt a handful of languages well and dabbled in several others. As a journalist, I published four well-received books on linguistics in Dutch: Nieuwe tongen (New Tongues, 1999) on the languages of migrants in the Benelux, Taaltoerisme (Language Tourism, 2012), a lively grand tour of 53 European languages and Vakantie in eigen taal (A linguistic staycation, 2016), about the delights of my mother tongue. Taaltoerisme was the basis for Lingo, known as Lingvo in Russian, Sprachen in German, and Lingua (the much enhanced edition of Taaltoerisme) in Dutch. I wrote Babel directly in English, then penned a Dutch-language version – so there is book number four.
I’m also a public speaker. Being visible on a stage was not something that came naturally to me as a writer, but it’s grown on me like ivy on college walls. If you’d like to attend one of my talks (in English or Dutch, more rarely German, Spanish or Limburgish), see my schedule.
This is what I looked and talked like in 2016 (starting at 0:19):