Photo of Carsten Levisen

Carsten Levisen

MA & PhD

  • Universitetsvej 1, 43.2

    DK-4000 Roskilde


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Personal profile




I'm a linguist and a linguistic anthropologist. I'm a member of The Young Academy of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters. My research focuses on language and life in a globalizing, multipolar world. My linguistic studies are almost always interdisciplinary in nature: Local words and ways of speaking are intimately linked with local ways of feeling, ways of thinking, and ways of knowing.

Areas of special expertice:

  • Semantics (lexical semantics, cultural semantics, cognitive semantics)
  • Pragmatics and discourse studies (ethnopragmatics, cultural discourse studies)
  • Postcolonial language studies (i.e. creole studies)
  • Linguistic anthropology and ethnolinguistics (language ideologies, values, emotions, sociality)

I'm a part of the Natural Semantic Metalanguage research community, and a propoenent of the NSM approach to linguistic, cultural and cognitive analysis. I've contributed to major research projects such as the Evolution of Semantics Systems (Max Planck, Nijmegen), Cognitive Creolistics (Aarhus) and An Ethnography of Language Encounters – LINGCORP (Roskilde). I've been a visiting researcher the Australian National University and the University of the South Pacific, and a visiting professor at University of Bremen and Tallinn University.



  • Cultural Semantics and Social CognitionA case study on the Danish Universe of Meaning. Published by De Gruyter Mouton, Berlin (Trends in Linguistics)  
  • Creole Studies: Phylogenetic Approaches. Published by J. Benjamins, Amsterdam. With Peter Bakker (Aarhus), Finn Borchsenius (Aarhus) and Eeva Sippola (Bremen).
  • Cultural Keywords in DiscoursePublished by J. Benjamins, Amsterdam. (Pragmatics and Beyond New Series). With Sophia Waters (University of New England). 



  • Language Ideologies in MusicEmergent Socialities in the Age of Transnationalism. Special issue of Language and Communication, with Eeva Sippola (Bremen) and Britta Schneider (Berlin).
  • Biases in Linguistics: Special issue of Language Sciences, with Simon Borchmann (Roskilde) and Britta Schneider (Berlin)
  • The Social Life of Interjections: Special issue of Scandinavian Studies in Language, with Eva Skafte Jensen (DSN-Copenhagen) and Tina Thode Hougaard (Aarhus).



I've published in journals such as Language SciencesInternational Journal of Language and Culture, Intercultural Pragmatics, Language and CommunicationAustralian Journal of Linguistics and Cahiers de Lexicologie. I've also published chapters in edited books, such as the ‘The Semantics of Nouns’, Z. Ye (Oxford University Press) and encyclopedias such as International Encyclopedia of Intercultural Communication. 



  • Humour in language and across languages
  • The semantics of address (and relational grammar)
  • Place concepts and popular geopolitics
  • Culture-specific emotions and emotive interjections
  • Folk aesthetics in language and thought  



  • "Postcolonial Semantics" (a monograph)
  • "The Pragmatics of Place: Colonial and Postcolonial Perspectives" (with Eeva Sippola, University of  Bremen) for a special issue in Journal of Postcolonial Linguistics
  • The semantics of sarcasm in English and Danish (with Cliff Goddard)
  • "Pæn, Flot, Dejlig and Lækker: A lexical anthropology of Danish Folk Aesthetics, for a special issue in International Journal of Language and Culture, ed. by Anna Gladkova (Monash) and Jesus Romero-Trillo (Madrid).
  • "Linguistic Worldview and the Cultural Semantics of Humour: A case study on Danish Untranslatables", a book on Linguistic Worldview and Translation, ed. by Adam Glaz (Lublin).



  • 2015-: Associate Professor, Roskilde University, Denmark
  • 2011-2015: Assistant Professor, postdoc and lecturer,  Aarhus University, Denmark
  • 2007-2010: PhD student, University of New England, Australia 


External positions

Researcher, Aarhus University

1 Jan 201331 Dec 2015


  • Language, Language usage, Philosophy of language
  • Semantics
  • Pragmatics
  • Discourse Studies
  • Postcolonial Linguistics
  • Creole Studies
  • Cultural encounters, Multi-culturalism
  • Linguistic Anthropology

Publication network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2012 2019

"Brightness" in Color Linguistics: New Light from Danish Visual Semantics

Levisen, C., 2019, (Accepted/In press) Lexicalization Patterns in Color Naming: a Cross-linguistic Perspective. Raffaelli, I., Katunar, D. & Kerovec, B. (eds.). John Benjamins Publishing Company

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

Interjections in Scandinavia and beyond: traditions and innovations

Jensen, E. S., Hougaard, T. T. & Levisen, C., May 2019, In : Scandinavian Studies in Language. 10, 1, p. 1-6

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearch

Open Access

Laughter Interjections: Contributions to a Lexical Anthropology of Humour (with special reference to Danish)

Levisen, C., May 2019, In : Scandinavian Studies in Language. 10, 1, p. 110-130

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Open Access

Meanings of Life Beyond English: On "happiness" and other human values

Levisen, C. & Wierzbicka, A., 2019, (Submitted) Happiness Beyond Well-being. Leontiev, D., Osin, E. & Sheldon, K. (eds.).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

Minimal Scandinavian: Lexicons and Literacies for Nordic Communication

Levisen, C., Mar 2019, (Accepted/In press) KLAARA 2019: Conference on Easy-to-Read Language Research. University of Helsinki, Finland.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference abstract in proceedingsResearchpeer-review

Projects 2018 2019

Journal of Postcolonial Linguistics

Levisen, C. & Sippola, E.


Project: Research

Ord i Paradis: Semantikken i Stillehavets Kreolsprog

Levisen, C.


Project: Research

Activities 2005 2019

Salt Water Words: Insulting Etymologies in the Black Pacific

Carsten Levisen (Speaker)
31 May 2019

Activity: Talk or presentationLecture and oral contribution

Postcolonial Semantics: Meaning and Metalanguage in a Multipolar World

Carsten Levisen (Speaker)
15 Apr 2019

Activity: Talk or presentationLecture and oral contribution

An Ethnosyntax of Anti-Authoritarianism? The Grammar of Danish Deliberative Discourse

Carsten Levisen (Speaker)
22 May 2019

Activity: Talk or presentationLecture and oral contribution

Løgn, Bedrag og Oversættelse: Stillehavsperspektiver på dansk kultursemantik

Carsten Levisen (Speaker)
8 Feb 2019

Activity: Talk or presentationLecture and oral contribution

Koloniale Archive – Wissensordnung | Material‘ Interuniversitärer Gedankenaustausch

Carsten Levisen (Participant)
27 Apr 2019

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Press / Media

Ord og Andre Undere

Carsten Levisen


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Press / Media

Toilet-graffiti afslører helt sort dansk humor

Carsten Levisen


1 item of media coverage

Press/Media: Press / Media

Indespærret i engelsk

Carsten Levisen


1 item of media coverage

Press/Media: Press / Media

Indespærret i Engelsk

Carsten Levisen


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Press / Media