Subject: Operational Linguistics.
Education: Cambridge University (Clare) and Essex University.
Research: Operational communication languages and systems, constructed languages, terminology, computer mediated interaction and multilingual communication.
Johnson joined Wolfson as a Senior Research Fellow in 1981 after five years lecturing overseas: Iran then Thailand for the British Council. With a linguistics background and two formative years ocean sailing ‘before the mast’ in the ‘sixties, he had been commissioned to design the standard grammar for SeaSpeak’, the international maritime VHF radio language. This was adopted internationally and received the English Speaking Union’s prize in 1983. He has since directed an uninterrupted programme of research from which there have been several real world applications.
Examples include: Linitext - the first controlled language interactive machine translation system; air traffic control language (with Fiona Robertson at Air France); bilingual police and emergency communications for the Channel Tunnel (PoliceSpeak and Intacom) and, with David Matthews, the world’s first (and still operational) multilingual, email system 'LinguaNet’ which won the UK National Language Technology Prize (DTI) in 1999. The same year Johnson was appointed Visiting Professor in Language Engineering at the Copenhagen Business School.
Recent work includes: emergency call analyses for the National Call Handling Standard (2005); the UK national standard language for police digital radio, 'AirwaveSpeak’, in 2008 (NPIA) and the UK terminology for civil protection published by the Cabinet Office in 2010. Johnson is currently collaborating with Andrew Kanter at Columbia University, New York in a healthcare project in sub-Saharan Africa funded in part by the Rockefeller Foundation. The research focuses on linguistic elements for ‘MGV-Net’; an international ‘Open-source’ medical communication and data system. He is also working on two books with longstanding research collaborator Mark Garner at Aberdeen: Operational Communication; Theory and Practice for Palgrave and, for Peter Lang, A History of Constructed Language.