He has always been fascinated by South Africa, says Prof Carel Jansen, Language Centre research fellow, who was here again from the Netherlands in March. Which is why he jumped at the opportunity to visit South Africa in the middle 90s when the Dutch Language Union wanted to start promoting interaction between the Netherlands and South African universities. He visited Stellenbosch, Pretoria and Johannesburg for the first time in 1996 and has since returned nearly 40 times. The people, the languages, the animals, the landscapes and the contrasts – these, for him, remain a wonderful experience time and again. His favourite word in Afrikaans? “Klopdisselboom,” he says.
In the Netherlands, Carel is currently emeritus professor in Communication and Information Studies at the University of Groningen after a long and successful career in academia. He initially qualified as a linguist, later focusing on document design, readability and health communication – subjects still very close to his heart.
His connection with the Language Centre dates from the late 90s, which led to mutual guest lecturerships for him and Prof Leon de Stadler (then Director of the Language Centre) at their respective universities – in Carel’s case, first the University of Utrecht, then the University of Nijmegen and now Groningen. At SU, he has earlier been emeritus professor and is currently research fellow at the Language Centre. Here, he is leading a research project on the development and refinement of a new readability formula for Afrikaans with various co-workers: Language Centre staff members, other experts and some of his postgraduate Dutch students. The project is now nearing the end of the second data-gathering phase. Anyone in the Stellenbosch area who would still like to participate as a respondent is warmly invited to contact Susan Lotz.
Carel is also co-editor of a recently published text book on professional communication, Communicate as a Professional, released by Amsterdam University Press. The book is based on the Dutch text book Leren Communiceren, of which he is co-author. Communicate as a Professional, however, was expanded for an international audience. Read more about this book here. Carel is planning to offer a short course on professional communication based on the book, together with our Comms Lab, when he visits South Africa again in October this year. He offered a very popular short course on form design here last year, which he will also offer again in October. E-mail Michelle Pieters for more information on these two courses.