Linguist at Utrecht University, specialized in semantics (the study of meaning in language)

Research interests

The formal semantics of collective categorization: as part of Yoad Winter's ERC Advanced Grant project ROCKY that studies "the linguistic ability to conceptualize collections".

Endo/Markweeta, a Southern Nilotic language spoken in Kenya

Prepositions and the language of space: How do we use small words (like in) to talk about spatial (and other) relations?

Metaphorical meanings: How do metaphors work (as part of a compositional semantics)?

Biblical language(s): How can linguistic semantics contribute to our understanding of the languages(s) of the Bible?

Semantic maps and conceptual spaces: How are word meanings organized in semantic maps and conceptual spaces and how can such maps and spaces be visualized?

New and upcoming

(with Giada Palmieri) On lexical reciprocity in Swahili. IATL 37, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, October 19-20.

Metaphor alignment in complex concepts. Concepts in Action: Representation, Learning, and Application (CARLA 2022), Humboldt University of Berlin, August 22-24.

(with Andrew Chelimo and Prisca Jerono) The reflexive in Kalenjin: Its syntactic status and semantic functions. MS.

(with Andrew Chelimo and Prisca Jerono) Two verbal plurals in Endo-Marakwet. MS.

Formal semantics of spatial language, contribution for a handbook about spatial language, edited by Jürgen Bohnemeyer and Eric Pederson, in the de Gruyter series The Expression of Cognitive Categories.

Mining and mapping New Testament metaphors and the Louw-Nida lexicon, contribution for Textual, Image, and Network Analysis in Biblical and Religious Studies, edited by Garick Allen, Paul Dilley, Sara Schulthess, and Peter Philips in Brill's Digital Biblical Studies series.


Reflexive/reciprocal marking in Markweeta, Annual Conference on African Linguistics 53, April 8, 2022, University of California San Diego.

Tax havens and fiscal regimes: Metaphorical domains in compounding and modification, Workshop Literal and Figurative Meanings of Compounds, DGfS 24 February, 2022, Tübingen.

Twice aptness and the adverb literally and metaphorically, Grote Taaldag, 4 February, 2022, Utrecht University.

Zwarts, J. (2021). "Between" constructions in Biblical Hebrew. In M. Dingemanse, E. van Lier & J. Vogels (Eds.), Linguistics in the Netherlands 38 (pp. 163-178). John Benjamins.

(with Ora Matushansky), In combination with: Parameters of nominal deficiency in complex prepositions, at Colloque PrepComp2021, September 30, 2021, Toulouse.

The semantics of metaphor, Introductory course at ESSLLI 2021, July 26-30, 2021.

Zwarts, J. (2021). Domain adjectives and metaphorical functions. Presentation at the Workshop Metaphor and Ambiguity Analysis (MAmbA), 26-27 March 2021.

Zwarts, J. (2021). 'Between' constructions in Biblical Hebrew. Presentation at the Dutch Annual Linguistics Day 2021, 29 January 2021.