Mark Dingemanse


Why are languages the way they are? Why do our utterances combine multiple modes of representation? What makes complex cooperative communication possible? My research formulates new answers to these questions.

I study how language is shaped by and for social interaction. My work is comparative, cross-cultural, and collaborative: I do fieldwork and experiments in societies I know well, and work together with interdisciplinary teams in Nijmegen and around the world.

In the period 2018-2023 my research team focuses on the 'elementary particles of conversation': the little words that streamline interaction and help make complex language possible. We combine corpus-based, cross-cultural and computational methods to study the origins, diversity and consequences of these words. Support comes from a Vidi grant by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research and from a team science project in the Language in Interaction consortium.

Three key papers

  • Dingemanse, M. (2018). Redrawing the margins of language: lessons from research on ideophones. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics, 3(1): 4 ►PDF
  • Dingemanse, M., Roberts, S. G., Baranova, J., Blythe, J., Drew, P., Floyd, S., Gisladottir, R. S., Kendrick, K. H., Levinson, S. C., Manrique, E., Rossi, G., & Enfield, N. J. (2015). Universal Principles in the Repair of Communication Problems. PLOS ONE, 10(9): e0136100 ►PDF
  • Dingemanse, M., Schuerman, W. L., Reinisch, E., Tufvesson, S., & Mitterer, H. (2016). What sound symbolism can and cannot do: Testing the iconicity of ideophones from five languages. Language, 92(2), e117-e133 ►PDF

Three niche papers that I think deserve more readers:

  • Dingemanse, M. (2017). Brain-to-brain interfaces and the role of language in distributing agency. In N. J. Enfield, & P. Kockelman (Eds.), Distributed Agency (pp. 59-66). Oxford: Oxford University Press ►PDF
  • Dingemanse, M. (2017). On the margins of language: Ideophones, interjections and dependencies in linguistic theory. In N. J. Enfield (Ed.), Dependencies in language (pp. 195-202). Berlin: Language Science Press ►PDF
  • Dingemanse, M. (2015). Folk definitions in linguistic fieldwork. In J. Essegbey, B. Henderson, & F. Mc Laughlin (Eds.), Language documentation and endangerment in Africa(pp. 215-238). Amsterdam: Benjamins ►PDF

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