One of the great joys of science is the international environment. It's the opportunity to work with people from all over the world, from a huge variety of backgrounds and cultures. However one common theme unites many scientists: we're all speaking english.
English the adopted language of science - if you attend an international conference the presentations and posters will all be in english. That's great if you're a native speaker, but what if english is not your mother tongue? I'd had a taste of working in another language while studying as an exchange student in Germany, but I wanted to find out more.
For this episode I interviewed Dr Jenneke van der Wal, a researcher in the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at the University of Cambridge. Originally from the Netherlands, Jenneke not only understands the mechanics of language, but also has first-hand experience of living and working in the english.
We also discuss jargon - the technical words and phrases that pervade throughout all sciences. It's sometimes essential to the job - a shorthand for communicating quickly and accurately - but often makes academic studies seem opaque and confusing.
Jenneke taught me about academese - the deliberate use of jargon to obscure the underlying meaning - along with the superb Postmodernism Essay Generator - which can churn out a complete essay of something that looks impressive, but has no underlying meaning. It's good fun to try out.
Throughout the episode I also speak with scientists Keehoon Kang, Angela Wittman and Fanny Allayaud about their experiences and tips for effective communication.
(Literally: until soon!)