Mark Dingemanse

Publications

Displaying 1 - 75 of 75
  • Dingemanse, M. (in press). The language of perception in Siwu. In A. Majid, & S. C. Levinson (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the Language of Perception.

    Abstract

    The language of perception in Siwu, a Kwa language of eastern Ghana, is described based on linguistic elicitation, ethnographic field research, and a standardised set of stimuli targeting the perceptual domains of Colour, Shape, Sound, Touch, Taste, and Smell. Verbs of perception pattern into active-explorative and passive-inchoative construals of sensing. Percepts are sometimes encoded by stative verbs or nominal concepts but most often by ideophones. Colour is not a culturally salient category and Siwu may represent an intermediate type of ‘non-partition’ system, in which the available terms do not cover the colour space exhaustively. High codability in the domains of Touch and Taste appears to be associated with the availability of ideophones with highly precise meanings, while lower codability in the domain of Smell is associated with a lack of conventionalised vocabulary.
  • Dingemanse, M. (in press). Resource-rationality beyond individual minds: the case of interactive language use. Behavioural and Brain Sciences.

    Abstract

    Resource-rational approaches offer much promise for understanding human cognition, especially if they can reach beyond the confines of individual minds. Language allows people to transcend individual resource limitations by augmenting computation and enabling distributed cognition. Interactive language use, an environment where social rational agents routinely deal with resource constraints together, offers a natural laboratory to test resource-rationality in the wild.
  • Dingemanse, M. (in press). Recruiting assistance in interaction: a West-African corpus study. In Getting others to do things: A pragmatic typology of recruitments. Berlin: Language Science Press.

    Abstract

    Doing things for and with others is one of the foundations of human social life. This chapter studies a systematic collection of 207 requests for assistance and collaboration from a video corpus of everyday conversations in Siwu, a Kwa language of Ghana. A range of social action formats and semiotic resources reveals how language is adapted to the interactional challenges posed by recruiting assistance. While many of the formats bear a language-specific signature, their sequential and interactional properties show important commonalities across languages. Two tentative findings are put forward for further cross-linguistic examination: a “rule of three” that may play a role in the organisation of successive response pursuits, and a striking commonality in animal-oriented recruitments across languages that may be explained by convergent cultural evolution. The Siwu recruitment system emerges as one instance of a sophisticated machinery for organising collaborative action that transcends language and culture.
  • Dingemanse, M., & Thompson, B. (in press). Playful iconicity: Structural markedness underlies the relation between funniness and iconicity. Language and Cognition.

    Abstract

    Words like ‘waddle’, ‘flop’ and ‘zigzag’ combine playful connotations with iconic form-meaning resemblances. Here we propose that structural markedness may be a common factor underlying perceptions of playfulness and iconicity. Using collected and estimated lexical ratings covering a total of over 70,000 English words, we assess the robustness of this assocation. We identify cues of phonotactic complexity that covary with funniness and iconicity ratings and that, we propose, serve as metacommunicative signals to draw attention to words as playful and performative. To assess the generalisability of the findings we develop a method to estimate lexical ratings from distributional semantics and apply it to a dataset 20 times the size of the original set of human ratings. The method can be used more generally to extend coverage of lexical ratings. We find that it reliably reproduces correlations between funniness and iconicity as well as cues of structural markedness, though it also amplifies biases present in the human ratings. Our study shows that the playful and the poetic are part of the very texture of the lexicon.
  • Dingemanse, M., Perlman, M., & Perniss, P. (in press). Construals of iconicity: Experimental approaches to form-meaning resemblances in language. Language and Cognition.

    Abstract

    While speculations on form-meaning resemblances in language go back millennia, the experimental study of iconicity is only about a century old. Here we take stock of experimental work on iconicity and present a double special issue with a diverse set of new contributions. We contextualise the work by introducing a typology of approaches to iconicity in language. Some approaches construe iconicity as a discrete property that is either present or absent; others treat it as involving semiotic relationships that come in kinds; and yet others see it as a gradient substance that comes in degrees. We show the benefits and limitations that come with each of these construals and stress the importance of developing accounts that can fluently switch between them. With operationalisations of iconicity that are well-defined yet flexible enough to deal with differences in tasks, modalities, and levels of analysis, experimental research on iconicity is well-equipped to contribute to a comprehensive science of language.
  • Dingemanse, M. (in press). Between sound and speech: Liminal signs in interaction. Research on Language and Social Interaction.

    Abstract

    When people talk, they recruit a wide range of expressive devices for interactional work, from sighs, sniffs, clicks, and whistles to other conduct that borders on the linguistic. These resources represent some of the more elusive yet no less powerful aspects of the interactional machinery as they are used in the management of turn and sequence and the marking of stance and affect. Phenomena long assumed to be beyond the purview of linguistic inquiry emerge as systematically deployed practices whose ambiguous degree of control and convention allows participants to carry out subtle interactional work without committing to specific words. While these resources have been characterised as non-lexical, non-verbal, or non-conventional, I propose they are unified in their liminality: they work well precisely because they equivocate between sound and speech. The empirical study of liminal signs shows the promise of sequential analysis for building a science of language on interactional foundations.
  • Akita, K., & Dingemanse, M. (2019). Ideophones (Mimetics, Expressives). In Oxford Research Encyclopedia for Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199384655.013.477.

    Abstract

    Ideophones, also termed “mimetics” or “expressives,” are marked words that depict sensory imagery. They are found in many of the world’s languages, and sizable lexical classes of ideophones are particularly well-documented in languages of Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Ideophones are not limited to onomatopoeia like meow and smack, but cover a wide range of sensory domains, such as manner of motion (e.g., plisti plasta ‘splish-splash’ in Basque), texture (e.g., tsaklii ‘rough’ in Ewe), and psychological states (e.g., wakuwaku ‘excited’ in Japanese). Across languages, ideophones stand out as marked words due to special phonotactics, expressive morphology including certain types of reduplication, and relative syntactic independence, in addition to production features like prosodic foregrounding and common co-occurrence with iconic gestures. Three intertwined issues have been repeatedly debated in the century-long literature on ideophones. (a) Definition: Isolated descriptive traditions and cross-linguistic variation have sometimes obscured a typologically unified view of ideophones, but recent advances show the promise of a prototype definition of ideophones as conventionalised depictions in speech, with room for language-specific nuances. (b) Integration: The variable integration of ideophones across linguistic levels reveals an interaction between expressiveness and grammatical integration, and has important implications for how to conceive of dependencies between linguistic systems. (c) Iconicity: Ideophones form a natural laboratory for the study of iconic form-meaning associations in natural languages, and converging evidence from corpus and experimental studies suggests important developmental, evolutionary, and communicative advantages of ideophones.
  • Burghoorn, F., Dingemanse, M., Van Lier, R., & Van Leeuwen, T. M. (2019). The relation between the degree of synaesthesia, autistic traits, and local/global visual perception. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Advance online publication. doi:10.1007/s10803-019-04222-7.

    Abstract

    In individuals with synaesthesia specific sensory stimulation leads to unusual concurrent perceptions in the same or a different modality. Recent studies have demonstrated a high co-occurrence between synaesthesia and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a condition also characterized by altered perception. A potentially shared characteristic of synaesthesia and ASD is a bias towards local (detail-focussed) perception. We investigated whether a bias towards local perception is indeed shared between synaesthesia and ASD. In a neurotypical population, we studied the relation between the degree of autistic traits (measured by the AQ) and the degree of grapheme-colour synaesthesia (measured by a consistency task), as well as whether both are related to a local bias in tasks assessing local/global visual perception. A positive correlation between total AQ scores and the degree of synaesthesia was found. Our study extends previous studies that found a high ASD-synaesthesia co-occurrence in clinical populations. Consistent with the hypothesized local perceptual bias in ASD, scores on the AQ-attention to detail subscale were related to increased performance on an Embedded Figures Task (EFT), and we found evidence for a relation to reduced susceptibility to visual illusions. We found no relation between autistic traits and local visual perception in a motion coherence task (MCT). Also, no relation between synaesthesia and local visual perception was found, although a reduced susceptibility to visual illusions resembled the results obtained for AQ-atttention to detail subscale. A suggested explanation for the absence of a relationship between the degree of synaesthesia and a local bias is that a possible local bias might be more pronounced in supra-threshold synaesthetes (compared to neurotypicals).
  • Cuskley, C., Dingemanse, M., Kirby, S., & Van Leeuwen, T. M. (2019). Cross-modal associations and synesthesia: Categorical perception and structure in vowel–color mappings in a large online sample. Behavior Research Methods, 51, 1651-1675. doi:10.3758/s13428-019-01203-7.

    Abstract

    We report associations between vowel sounds, graphemes, and colours collected online from over 1000 Dutch speakers. We provide open materials including a Python implementation of the structure measure, and code for a single page web application to run simple cross-modal tasks. We also provide a full dataset of colour-vowel associations from 1164 participants, including over 200 synaesthetes identified using consistency measures. Our analysis reveals salient patterns in cross-modal associations, and introduces a novel measure of isomorphism in cross-modal mappings. We find that while acoustic features of vowels significantly predict certain mappings (replicating prior work), both vowel phoneme category and grapheme category are even better predictors of colour choice. Phoneme category is the best predictor of colour choice overall, pointing to the importance of phonological representations in addition to acoustic cues. Generally, high/front vowels are lighter, more green, and more yellow than low/back vowels. Synaesthetes respond more strongly on some dimensions, choosing lighter and more yellow colours for high and mid front vowels than non-synaesthetes. We also present a novel measure of cross-modal mappings adapted from ecology, which uses a simulated distribution of mappings to measure the extent to which participants' actual mappings are structured isomorphically across modalities. Synaesthetes have mappings that tend to be more structured than non-synaesthetes, and more consistent colour choices across trials correlate with higher structure scores. Nevertheless, the large majority (~70%) of participants produce structured mappings, indicating that the capacity to make isomorphically structured mappings across distinct modalities is shared to a large extent, even if the exact nature of mappings varies across individuals. Overall, this novel structure measure suggests a distribution of structured cross-modal association in the population, with synaesthetes on one extreme and participants with unstructured associations on the other.
  • Dideriksen, C., Fusaroli, R., Tylén, K., Dingemanse, M., & Christiansen, M. H. (2019). Contextualizing Conversational Strategies: Backchannel, Repair and Linguistic Alignment in Spontaneous and Task-Oriented Conversations. In A. K. Goel, C. M. Seifert, & C. Freksa (Eds.), Proceedings of the 41st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2019) (pp. 261-267). Montreal, QB: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    Do interlocutors adjust their conversational strategies to the specific contextual demands of a given situation? Prior studies have yielded conflicting results, making it unclear how strategies vary with demands. We combine insights from qualitative and quantitative approaches in a within-participant experimental design involving two different contexts: spontaneously occurring conversations (SOC) and task-oriented conversations (TOC). We systematically assess backchanneling, other-repair and linguistic alignment. We find that SOC exhibit a higher number of backchannels, a reduced and more generic repair format and higher rates of lexical and syntactic alignment. TOC are characterized by a high number of specific repairs and a lower rate of lexical and syntactic alignment. However, when alignment occurs, more linguistic forms are aligned. The findings show that conversational strategies adapt to specific contextual demands.
  • Dingemanse, M. (2019). 'Ideophone' as a comparative concept. In K. Akita, & P. Pardeshi (Eds.), Ideophones, Mimetics, and Expressives (pp. 13-33). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi:10.1075/ill.16.02din.

    Abstract

    This chapter makes the case for ‘ideophone’ as a comparative concept: a notion that captures a recurrent typological pattern and provides a template for understanding language-specific phenomena that prove similar. It revises an earlier definition to account for the observation that ideophones typically form an open lexical class, and uses insights from canonical typology to explore the larger typological space. According to the resulting definition, a canonical ideophone is a member of an open lexical class of marked words that depict sensory imagery. The five elements of this definition can be seen as dimensions that together generate a possibility space to characterise cross-linguistic diversity in depictive means of expression. This approach allows for the systematic comparative treatment of ideophones and ideophone-like phenomena. Some phenomena in the larger typological space are discussed to demonstrate the utility of the approach: phonaesthemes in European languages, specialised semantic classes in West-Chadic, diachronic diversions in Aslian, and depicting constructions in signed languages.
  • Van Leeuwen, T. M., Van Petersen, E., Burghoorn, F., Dingemanse, M., & Van Lier, R. (2019). Autistic traits in synaesthesia: Atypical sensory sensitivity and enhanced perception of details. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences. doi:10.1098/rstb.2019.0024.

    Abstract

    In synaesthetes specific sensory stimuli (e.g., black letters) elicit additional experiences (e.g. colour). Synaesthesia is highly prevalent among individuals with autism spectrum disorder but the mechanisms of this co-occurrence are not clear. We hypothesized autism and synaesthesia share atypical sensory sensitivity and perception. We assessed autistic traits, sensory sensitivity, and visual perception in two synaesthete populations. In Study 1, synaesthetes (N=79, of different types) scored higher than non-synaesthetes (N=76) on the Attention-to-detail and Social skills subscales of the Autism Spectrum Quotient indexing autistic traits, and on the Glasgow Sensory Questionnaire indexing sensory hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity which frequently occur in autism. Synaesthetes performed two local/global visual tasks because individuals with autism typically show a bias toward detail processing. In synaesthetes, elevated motion coherence thresholds suggested reduced global motion perception and higher accuracy on an embedded figures task suggested enhanced local perception. In Study 2 sequence-space synaesthetes (N=18) completed the same tasks. Questionnaire and embedded figures results qualitatively resembled Study 1 results but no significant group differences with non-synaesthetes (N=20) were obtained. Unexpectedly, sequence-space synaesthetes had reduced motion coherence thresholds. Altogether, our studies suggest atypical sensory sensitivity and a bias towards detail processing are shared features of synaesthesia and autism spectrum disorder.
  • Dingemanse, M., Blythe, J., & Dirksmeyer, T. (2018). Formats for other-initiation of repair across languages: An exercise in pragmatic typology. In I. Nikolaeva (Ed.), Linguistic Typology: Critical Concepts in Linguistics. Vol. 4 (pp. 322-357). London: Routledge.

    Abstract

    In conversation, people regularly deal with problems of speaking, hearing, and understanding. We report on a cross-linguistic investigation of the conversational structure of other-initiated repair (also known as collaborative repair, feedback, requests for clarification, or grounding sequences). We take stock of formats for initiating repair across languages (comparable to English huh?, who?, y’mean X?, etc.) and find that different languages make available a wide but remarkably similar range of linguistic resources for this function. We exploit the patterned variation as evidence for several underlying concerns addressed by repair initiation: characterising trouble, managing responsibility, and handling knowledge. The concerns do not always point in the same direction and thus provide participants in interaction with alternative principles for selecting one format over possible others. By comparing conversational structures across languages, this paper contributes to pragmatic typology: the typology of systems of language use and the principles that shape them.
  • Dingemanse, M. (2018). Redrawing the margins of language: Lessons from research on ideophones. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics, 3(1): 4. doi:10.5334/gjgl.444.

    Abstract

    Ideophones (also known as expressives or mimetics, and including onomatopoeia) have been systematically studied in linguistics since the 1850s, when they were first described as a lexical class of vivid sensory words in West-African languages. This paper surveys the research history of ideophones, from its roots in African linguistics to its fruits in general linguistics and typology around the globe. It shows that despite a recurrent narrative of marginalisation, work on ideophones has made an impact in many areas of linguistics, from theories of phonological features to typologies of manner and motion, and from sound symbolism to sensory language. Due to their hybrid nature as gradient vocal gestures that grow roots in discrete linguistic systems, ideophones provide opportunities to reframe typological questions, reconsider the role of language ideology in linguistic scholarship, and rethink the margins of language. With ideophones increasingly being brought into the fold of the language sciences, this review synthesises past theoretical insights and empirical findings in order to enable future work to build on them.
  • Floyd, S., Rossi, G., Baranova, J., Blythe, J., Dingemanse, M., Kendrick, K. H., Zinken, J., & Enfield, N. J. (2018). Universals and cultural diversity in the expression of gratitude. Royal Society Open Science, 5: 180391. doi:10.1098/rsos.180391.

    Abstract

    Gratitude is argued to have evolved to motivate and maintain social reciprocity among people, and to be linked to a wide range of positive effects — social, psychological, and even physical. But is socially reciprocal behaviour dependent on the expression of gratitude, for example by saying "thank you" as in English? Current research has not included cross-cultural elements, and has tended to conflate gratitude as an emotion with gratitude as a linguistic practice, as might appear to be the case in English. Here we ask to what extent people actually express gratitude in different societies by focussing on episodes of everyday life where someone obtains a good, service, or support from another, and comparing these episodes across eight languages from five continents. What we find is that expressions of gratitude in these episodes are remarkably rare, suggesting that social reciprocity in everyday life relies on tacit understandings of people’s rights and duties surrounding mutual assistance and collaboration. At the same time, we also find minor cross-cultural variation, with slightly higher rates in Western European languages English and Italian, showing that universal tendencies of social reciprocity should not be conflated with more culturally variable practices of expressing gratitude. Our study complements previous experimental and culture-specific research on social reciprocity with a systematic comparison of audiovisual corpora of naturally occurring social interaction from different cultures from around the world.
  • Majid, A., Roberts, S. G., Cilissen, L., Emmorey, K., Nicodemus, B., O'Grady, L., Woll, B., LeLan, B., De Sousa, H., Cansler, B. L., Shayan, S., De Vos, C., Senft, G., Enfield, N. J., Razak, R. A., Fedden, S., Tufvesson, S., Dingemanse, M., Ozturk, O., Brown, P., Hill, C., Le Guen, O., Hirtzel, V., Van Gijn, R., Sicoli, M. A., & Levinson, S. C. (2018). Differential coding of perception in the world’s languages. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115(45), 11369-11376. doi:10.1073/pnas.1720419115.

    Abstract

    Is there a universal hierarchy of the senses, such that some senses (e.g., vision) are more accessible to consciousness and linguistic description than others (e.g., smell)? The long-standing presumption in Western thought has been that vision and audition are more objective than the other senses, serving as the basis of knowledge and understanding, whereas touch, taste, and smell are crude and of little value. This predicts that humans ought to be better at communicating about sight and hearing than the other senses, and decades of work based on English and related languages certainly suggests this is true. However, how well does this reflect the diversity of languages and communities worldwide? To test whether there is a universal hierarchy of the senses, stimuli from the five basic senses were used to elicit descriptions in 20 diverse languages, including 3 unrelated sign languages. We found that languages differ fundamentally in which sensory domains they linguistically code systematically, and how they do so. The tendency for better coding in some domains can be explained in part by cultural preoccupations. Although languages seem free to elaborate specific sensory domains, some general tendencies emerge: for example, with some exceptions, smell is poorly coded. The surprise is that, despite the gradual phylogenetic accumulation of the senses, and the imbalances in the neural tissue dedicated to them, no single hierarchy of the senses imposes itself upon language.
  • Dingemanse, M., & Akita, K. (2017). An inverse relation between expressiveness and grammatical integration: on the morphosyntactic typology of ideophones, with special reference to Japanese. Journal of Linguistics, 53(3), 501-532. doi:10.1017/S002222671600030X.

    Abstract

    Words and phrases may differ in the extent to which they are susceptible to prosodic foregrounding and expressive morphology: their expressiveness. They may also differ in the degree to which they are integrated in the morphosyntactic structure of the utterance: their grammatical integration. We describe an inverse relation that holds across widely varied languages, such that more expressiveness goes together with less grammatical integration, and vice versa. We review typological evidence for this inverse relation in 10 languages, then quantify and explain it using Japanese corpus data. We do this by tracking ideophones —vivid sensory words also known as mimetics or expressives— across different morphosyntactic contexts and measuring their expressiveness in terms of intonation, phonation and expressive morphology. We find that as expressiveness increases, grammatical integration decreases. Using gesture as a measure independent of the speech signal, we find that the most expressive ideophones are most likely to come together with iconic gestures. We argue that the ultimate cause is the encounter of two distinct and partly incommensurable modes of representation: the gradient, iconic, depictive system represented by ideophones and iconic gestures and the discrete, arbitrary, descriptive system represented by ordinary words. The study shows how people combine modes of representation in speech and demonstrates the value of integrating description and depiction into the scientific vision of language.

    Supplementary material

    Open data & R code
  • Dingemanse, M. (2017). Expressiveness and system integration: On the typology of ideophones, with special reference to Siwu. STUF - Language Typology and Universals, 70(2), 363-384. doi:10.1515/stuf-2017-0018.

    Abstract

    Ideophones are often described as words that are highly expressive and morphosyntactically marginal. A study of ideophones in everyday conversations in Siwu (Kwa, eastern Ghana) reveals a landscape of variation and change that sheds light on some larger questions in the morphosyntactic typology of ideophones. The article documents a trade-off between expressiveness and morphosyntactic integration, with high expressiveness linked to low integration and vice versa. It also describes a pathway for deideophonisation and finds that frequency of use is a factor that influences the degree to which ideophones can come to be more like ordinary words. The findings have implications for processes of (de)ideophonisation, ideophone borrowing, and ideophone typology. A key point is that the internal diversity we find in naturally occurring data, far from being mere noise, is patterned variation that can help us to get a handle on the factors shaping ideophone systems within and across languages.
  • 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. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190457204.003.0007.

    Abstract

    Brain-to-brain interfaces, in which brains are physically connected without the intervention of language, promise new ways of collaboration and communication between humans. I examine the narrow view of language implicit in current conceptions of brain-to-brain interfaces and put forward a constructive alternative, stressing the role of language in organising joint agency. Two features of language stand out as crucial: its selectivity, which provides people with much-needed filters between public words and private worlds; and its negotiability, which provides people with systematic opportunities for calibrating understanding and expressing consent and dissent. Without these checks and balances, brain-to-brain interfaces run the risk of reducing people to the level of amoeba in a slime mold; with them, they may mature to become useful extensions of human agency
  • 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. doi:10.5281/zenodo.573781.

    Abstract

    Linguistic discovery is viewpoint-dependent, just like our ideas about what is marginal and what is central in language. In this essay I consider two supposed marginalia —ideophones and interjections— which provide some useful pointers for widening our field of view. Ideophones challenge us to take a fresh look at language and consider how it is that our communication system combines multiple modes of representation. Interjections challenge us to extend linguistic inquiry beyond sentence level, and remind us that language is social-interactive at core. Marginalia, then, are not the obscure, exotic phenomena that can be safely ignored: they represent opportunities for innovation and invite us to keep pushing the edges of linguistic inquiry.
  • Dingemanse, M., Rossi, G., & Floyd, S. (2017). Place reference in story beginnings: a cross-linguistic study of narrative and interactional affordances. Language in Society, 46(2), 129-158. doi:10.1017/S0047404516001019.

    Abstract

    People often begin stories in conversation by referring to person, time, and place. We study story beginnings in three societies and find place reference is recurrently used to (i) set the stage, foreshadowing the type of story and the kind of response due, and to (ii) make the story cohere, anchoring elements of the developing story. Recipients orient to these interactional affordances of place reference by responding in ways that attend to the relevance of place for the story and by requesting clarification when references are incongruent or noticeably absent. The findings are based on 108 story beginnings in three unrelated languages: Cha’palaa, a Barbacoan language of Ecuador; Northern Italian, a Romance language of Italy; and Siwu, a Kwa language of Ghana. The commonalities suggest we have identified generic affordances of place reference, and that storytelling in conversation offers a robust sequential environment for systematic comparative research on conversational structures.
  • Fusaroli, R., Tylén, K., Garly, K., Steensig, J., Christiansen, M. H., & Dingemanse, M. (2017). Measures and mechanisms of common ground: Backchannels, conversational repair, and interactive alignment in free and task-oriented social interactions. In G. Gunzelmann, A. Howes, T. Tenbrink, & E. Davelaar (Eds.), Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2017) (pp. 2055-2060). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    A crucial aspect of everyday conversational interactions is our ability to establish and maintain common ground. Understanding the relevant mechanisms involved in such social coordination remains an important challenge for cognitive science. While common ground is often discussed in very general terms, different contexts of interaction are likely to afford different coordination mechanisms. In this paper, we investigate the presence and relation of three mechanisms of social coordination – backchannels, interactive alignment and conversational repair – across free and task-oriented conversations. We find significant differences: task-oriented conversations involve higher presence of repair – restricted offers in particular – and backchannel, as well as a reduced level of lexical and syntactic alignment. We find that restricted repair is associated with lexical alignment and open repair with backchannels. Our findings highlight the need to explicitly assess several mechanisms at once and to investigate diverse activities to understand their role and relations.
  • Baranova, J., & Dingemanse, M. (2016). Reasons for requests. Discourse Studies, 18(6), 641-675. doi:10.1177/1461445616667154.

    Abstract

    Reasons play an important role in social interaction. We study reasons-giving in the context of request sequences in Russian. By contrasting request sequences with and without reasons, we are able to shed light on the interactional work people do when they provide reasons or ask for them. In a systematic collection of request sequences in everyday conversation (N = 158), we find reasons in a variety of sequential positions, showing the various points at which participants may orient to the need for a reason. Reasons may be left implicit (as in many minimal requests that are readily complied with), or they can be made explicit. Participants may make reasons explicit either as part of the initial formulation of a request or in an interactionally contingent way. Across sequential positions, we show that reasons for requests recurrently deal with three possible issues: (1) providing information when a request is underspecified, (2) managing relationships between the requester and requestee and (3) explicating ancillary actions implemented by a request. By spelling out information normally left to presuppositions and implicatures, reasons make requests more understandable and help participants to navigate the social landscape of asking assistance from others.
  • Dingemanse, M., Kendrick, K. H., & Enfield, N. J. (2016). A Coding Scheme for Other-Initiated Repair across Languages. Open Linguistics, 2, 35-46. doi:10.1515/opli-2016-0002.

    Abstract

    We provide an annotated coding scheme for other-initiated repair, along with guidelines for building collections and aggregating cases based on interactionally relevant similarities and differences. The questions and categories of the scheme are grounded in inductive observations of conversational data and connected to a rich body of work on other-initiated repair in conversation analysis. The scheme is developed and tested in a 12-language comparative project and can serve as a stepping stone for future work on other-initiated repair and the systematic comparative study of conversational structures.
  • 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. doi:10.1353/lan.2016.0034.

    Abstract

    Sound symbolism is a phenomenon with broad relevance to the study of language and mind, but there has been a disconnect between its investigations in linguistics and psychology. This study tests the sound-symbolic potential of ideophones—words described as iconic—in an experimental task that improves over prior work in terms of ecological validity and experimental control. We presented 203 ideophones from five languages to eighty-two Dutch listeners in a binary-choice task, in four versions: original recording, full diphone resynthesis, segments-only resynthesis, and prosody-only resynthesis. Listeners guessed the meaning of all four versions above chance, confirming the iconicity of ideophones and showing the viability of speech synthesis as a way of controlling for segmental and suprasegmental properties in experimental studies of sound symbolism. The success rate was more modest than prior studies using pseudowords like bouba/kiki, implying that assumptions based on such words cannot simply be transferred to natural languages. Prosody and segments together drive the effect: neither alone is sufficient, showing that segments and prosody work together as cues supporting iconic interpretations. The findings cast doubt on attempts to ascribe iconic meanings to segments alone and support a view of ideophones as words that combine arbitrariness and iconicity.We discuss the implications for theory and methods in the empirical study of sound symbolism and iconicity.

    Supplementary material

    https://muse.jhu.edu/article/619540
  • Lockwood, G., Hagoort, P., & Dingemanse, M. (2016). Synthesized Size-Sound Sound Symbolism. In A. Papafragou, D. Grodner, D. Mirman, & J. Trueswell (Eds.), Proceedings of the 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2016) (pp. 1823-1828). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    Studies of sound symbolism have shown that people can associate sound and meaning in consistent ways when presented with maximally contrastive stimulus pairs of nonwords such as bouba/kiki (rounded/sharp) or mil/mal (small/big). Recent work has shown the effect extends to antonymic words from natural languages and has proposed a role for shared cross-modal correspondences in biasing form-to-meaning associations. An important open question is how the associations work, and particularly what the role is of sound-symbolic matches versus mismatches. We report on a learning task designed to distinguish between three existing theories by using a spectrum of sound-symbolically matching, mismatching, and neutral (neither matching nor mismatching) stimuli. Synthesized stimuli allow us to control for prosody, and the inclusion of a neutral condition allows a direct test of competing accounts. We find evidence for a sound-symbolic match boost, but not for a mismatch difficulty compared to the neutral condition.
  • Lockwood, G., Dingemanse, M., & Hagoort, P. (2016). Sound-symbolism boosts novel word learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 42(8), 1274-1281. doi:10.1037/xlm0000235.

    Abstract

    The existence of sound-symbolism (or a non-arbitrary link between form and meaning) is well-attested. However, sound-symbolism has mostly been investigated with nonwords in forced choice tasks, neither of which are representative of natural language. This study uses ideophones, which are naturally occurring sound-symbolic words that depict sensory information, to investigate how sensitive Dutch speakers are to sound-symbolism in Japanese in a learning task. Participants were taught 2 sets of Japanese ideophones; 1 set with the ideophones’ real meanings in Dutch, the other set with their opposite meanings. In Experiment 1, participants learned the ideophones and their real meanings much better than the ideophones with their opposite meanings. Moreover, despite the learning rounds, participants were still able to guess the real meanings of the ideophones in a 2-alternative forced-choice test after they were informed of the manipulation. This shows that natural language sound-symbolism is robust beyond 2-alternative forced-choice paradigms and affects broader language processes such as word learning. In Experiment 2, participants learned regular Japanese adjectives with the same manipulation, and there was no difference between real and opposite conditions. This shows that natural language sound-symbolism is especially strong in ideophones, and that people learn words better when form and meaning match. The highlights of this study are as follows: (a) Dutch speakers learn real meanings of Japanese ideophones better than opposite meanings, (b) Dutch speakers accurately guess meanings of Japanese ideophones, (c) this sensitivity happens despite learning some opposite pairings, (d) no such learning effect exists for regular Japanese adjectives, and (e) this shows the importance of sound-symbolism in scaffolding language learning
  • Lockwood, G., Hagoort, P., & Dingemanse, M. (2016). How iconicity helps people learn new words: neural correlates and individual differences in sound-symbolic bootstrapping. Collabra, 2(1): 7. doi:10.1525/collabra.42.

    Abstract

    Sound symbolism is increasingly understood as involving iconicity, or perceptual analogies and cross-modal correspondences between form and meaning, but the search for its functional and neural correlates is ongoing. Here we study how people learn sound-symbolic words, using behavioural, electrophysiological and individual difference measures. Dutch participants learned Japanese ideophones —lexical sound-symbolic words— with a translation of either the real meaning (in which form and meaning show cross-modal correspondences) or the opposite meaning (in which form and meaning show cross-modal clashes). Participants were significantly better at identifying the words they learned in the real condition, correctly remembering the real word pairing 86.7% of the time, but the opposite word pairing only 71.3% of the time. Analysing event-related potentials (ERPs) during the test round showed that ideophones in the real condition elicited a greater P3 component and late positive complex than ideophones in the opposite condition. In a subsequent forced choice task, participants were asked to guess the real translation from two alternatives. They did this with 73.0% accuracy, well above chance level even for words they had encountered in the opposite condition, showing that people are generally sensitive to the sound-symbolic cues in ideophones. Individual difference measures showed that the ERP effect in the test round of the learning task was greater for participants who were more sensitive to sound symbolism in the forced choice task. The main driver of the difference was a lower amplitude of the P3 component in response to ideophones in the opposite condition, suggesting that people who are more sensitive to sound symbolism may have more difficulty to suppress conflicting cross-modal information. The findings provide new evidence that cross-modal correspondences between sound and meaning facilitate word learning, while cross-modal clashes make word learning harder, especially for people who are more sensitive to sound symbolism.

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  • Van Leeuwen, T. M., Dingemanse, M., Todil, B., Agameya, A., & Majid, A. (2016). Nonrandom associations of graphemes with colors in Arabic. Multisensory Research, 29, 223-252. doi:10.1163/22134808-00002511.

    Abstract

    Numerous studies demonstrate people associate colors with letters and numbers in systematic ways. But most of these studies rely on speakers of English, or closely related languages. This makes it difficult to know how generalizable these findings are, or what factors might underlie these associations. We investigated letter–color and number–color associations in Arabic speakers, who have a different writing system and unusual word structure compared to Standard Average European languages. We also aimed to identify grapheme–color synaesthetes (people who have conscious color experiences with letters and numbers). Participants associated colors with 28 basic Arabic letters and ten digits by typing color names that best fit each grapheme. We found language-specific principles determining grapheme–color associations. For example, the word formation process in Arabic was relevant for color associations. In addition, psycholinguistic variables, such as letter frequency and the intrinsic order of graphemes influenced associations. Contrary to previous studies we found no evidence for sounds playing a role in letter–color associations for Arabic, and only a very limited role for shape influencing color associations. These findings highlight the importance of linguistic and psycholinguistic features in cross-modal correspondences, and illustrate why it is important to play close attention to each language on its own terms in order to disentangle language-specific from universal effects
  • Dingemanse, M., Blasi, D. E., Lupyan, G., Christiansen, M. H., & Monaghan, P. (2015). Arbitrariness, iconicity and systematicity in language. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 19(10), 603-615. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2015.07.013.

    Abstract

    The notion that the form of a word bears an arbitrary relation to its meaning accounts only partly for the attested form to meaning correspondences in the world’s languages. Recent research suggests a more textured view of vocabulary structure, in which arbitrariness is complemented by iconicity (aspects of form resemble aspects of meaning) and systematicity (statistical regularities in forms predict function). Experimental evidence suggests these form to meaning correspondences serve different functions in language processing, development and communication: systematicity facilities category learning by means of phonological cues, iconicity facilitates word learning and communication by means of perceptuomotor analogies, and arbitrariness facilitates meaning individuation through distinctive forms. Processes of cultural evolution help explain how these competing motivations shape vocabulary structure.
  • Dingemanse, M., & Van Leeuwen, T. (2015). Boekoeboekoe is mollig: Taal als samenspel van de zintuigen. Onze Taal, (12), 344-345.
  • Dingemanse, M. (2015). Ideophones and Reduplication: Depiction, Description, and the Interpretation of Repeated Talk in Discourse. Studies in Language, 39(4), 946-970. doi:10.1075/sl.39.4.05din.

    Abstract

    Repetition is one of the most basic operations on talk, often discussed for its iconic meanings. Ideophones are marked words that depict sensory imagery, often identified by their reduplicated forms. Yet not all reduplication is iconic, and not all ideophones are reduplicated. This paper discusses the semantics and pragmatics of repeated talk (repetition as well as reduplication), with special focus on the intersection of reduplicative processes and ideophonic words. Various formal features of ideophones suggest that it is fruitful to distinguish two modes of representation in language —description and depiction— along with cues like prosodic foregrounding that can steer listeners’ interpretation from one to the other. What is special about reduplication is that it can naturally partake in both of these modes of representation, which is why it is so common in ideophones as well as in other areas of grammar. Using evidence from Siwu, Korean, Semai and a range of other languages, this paper shows how the study of ideophones sheds light on the interpretation of repeated talk and can lead to a more holistic understanding of reduplicative phenomena in language.
  • Dingemanse, M., & Enfield, N. J. (2015). Other-initiated repair across languages: Towards a typology of conversational structures. Open Linguistics, 1, 98-118. doi:10.2478/opli-2014-0007.

    Abstract

    This special issue reports on a cross-linguistic study of other-initiated repair, a domain at the crossroads of language, mind, and social life. Other-initiated repair is part of a system of practices that people use to deal with problems of speaking, hearing and understanding. The contributions in this special issue describe the linguistic resources and interactional practices associated with other-initiated repair in ten different languages. Here we provide an overview of the research methods and the conceptual framework. The empirical base for the project consists of corpora of naturally occurring conversations, collected in fieldsites around the world. Methodologically, we combine qualitative analysis with a comparative-typological perspective, and we formulate principles for the cross-linguistic comparison of conversational structures. A key move, of broad relevance to pragmatic typology, is the recognition that formats for repair initiation form paradigm-like systems that are ultimately language-specific, and that comparison is best done at the level of the constitutive properties of these formats. These properties can be functional (concerning aspects of linguistic formatting) as well as sequential (concerning aspects of the interactional environment). We show how functional and sequential aspects of conversational structure can capture patterns of commonality and diversity in conversational structures within and across languages
  • Dingemanse, M. (2015). Other-initiated repair in Siwu. Open Linguistics, 1, 232-255. doi:10.1515/opli-2015-0001.

    Abstract

    This article describes the interactional patterns and linguistic structures associated with other-initiated repair in Siwu, a Kwa language spoken in eastern Ghana. Other-initiated repair is the set of techniques used by people to deal with problems in speaking, hearing and understanding. Formats for repair initiation in Siwu exploit language-specific resources like question words and noun class morphology. At the same time, the basic structure of the system bears a strong similarity other-initiated repair in other languages. Practices described for Siwu thus are potentially of broader relevance to the study of other-initiated repair. This article documents how different prosodic realisations of repair initiators may index social actions and features of the speech event; how two distinct roles of repetition in repair initiators are kept apart by features of turn design; and what kinds of items can be treated as ‘dispensable’ in resayings. By charting how other-initiated repair uses local linguistic resources and yet is shaped by interactional needs that transcend particular languages, this study contributes to the growing field of pragmatic typology: the study of systems of language use and the principles that shape them
  • 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. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0136100.

    Abstract

    There would be little adaptive value in a complex communication system like human language if there were no ways to detect and correct problems. A systematic comparison of conversation in a broad sample of the world’s languages reveals a universal system for the real-time resolution of frequent breakdowns in communication. In a sample of 12 languages of 8 language families of varied typological profiles we find a system of ‘other-initiated repair’, where the recipient of an unclear message can signal trouble and the sender can repair the original message. We find that this system is frequently used (on average about once per 1.4 minutes in any language), and that it has detailed common properties, contrary to assumptions of radical cultural variation. Unrelated languages share the same three functionally distinct types of repair initiator for signalling problems and use them in the same kinds of contexts. People prefer to choose the type that is the most specific possible, a principle that minimizes cost both for the sender being asked to fix the problem and for the dyad as a social unit. Disruption to the conversation is kept to a minimum, with the two-utterance repair sequence being on average no longer that the single utterance which is being fixed. The findings, controlled for historical relationships, situation types and other dependencies, reveal the fundamentally cooperative nature of human communication and offer support for the pragmatic universals hypothesis: while languages may vary in the organization of grammar and meaning, key systems of language use may be largely similar across cultural groups. They also provide a fresh perspective on controversies about the core properties of language, by revealing a common infrastructure for social interaction which may be the universal bedrock upon which linguistic diversity rests.

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  • 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. doi:10.1075/clu.17.09din.

    Abstract

    Informal paraphrases by native speaker consultants are crucial tools in linguistic fieldwork. When recorded, archived, and analysed, they offer rich data that can be mined for many purposes, from lexicography to semantic typology and from ethnography to the investigation of gesture and speech. This paper describes a procedure for the collection and analysis of folk definitions that are native (in the language under study rather than the language of analysis), informal (spoken rather than written), and multi-modal (preserving the integrity of gesture-speech composite utterances). The value of folk definitions is demonstrated using the case of ideophones, words that are notoriously hard to study using traditional elicitation methods. Three explanatory strategies used in a set of folk definitions of ideophones are examined: the offering of everyday contexts of use, the use of depictive gestures, and the use of sense relations as semantic anchoring points. Folk definitions help elucidate word meanings that are hard to capture, bring to light cultural background knowledge that often remains implicit, and take seriously the crucial involvement of native speaker consultants in linguistic fieldwork. They provide useful data for language documentation and are an essential element of any toolkit for linguistic and ethnographic field research.
  • Dingemanse, M., & Enfield, N. J. (2015). Ungeschriebene Gesetze. Gehirn und Geist, 8, 34-39.
  • Drijvers, L., Zaadnoordijk, L., & Dingemanse, M. (2015). Sound-symbolism is disrupted in dyslexia: Implications for the role of cross-modal abstraction processes. In D. Noelle, R. Dale, A. S. Warlaumont, J. Yoshimi, T. Matlock, C. D. Jennings, & P. P. Maglio (Eds.), Proceedings of the 37th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2015) (pp. 602-607). Austin, Tx: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    Research into sound-symbolism has shown that people can consistently associate certain pseudo-words with certain referents; for instance, pseudo-words with rounded vowels and sonorant consonants are linked to round shapes, while pseudowords with unrounded vowels and obstruents (with a noncontinuous airflow), are associated with sharp shapes. Such sound-symbolic associations have been proposed to arise from cross-modal abstraction processes. Here we assess the link between sound-symbolism and cross-modal abstraction by testing dyslexic individuals’ ability to make sound-symbolic associations. Dyslexic individuals are known to have deficiencies in cross-modal processing. We find that dyslexic individuals are impaired in their ability to make sound-symbolic associations relative to the controls. Our results shed light on the cognitive underpinnings of sound-symbolism by providing novel evidence for the role —and disruptability— of cross-modal abstraction processes in sound-symbolic eects.
  • Lockwood, G., & Dingemanse, M. (2015). Iconicity in the lab: A review of behavioural, developmental, and neuroimaging research into sound-symbolism. Frontiers in Psychology, 6: 1246. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01246.

    Abstract

    This review covers experimental approaches to sound-symbolism—from infants to adults, and from Sapir’s foundational studies to twenty-first century product naming. It synthesizes recent behavioral, developmental, and neuroimaging work into a systematic overview of the cross-modal correspondences that underpin iconic links between form and meaning. It also identifies open questions and opportunities, showing how the future course of experimental iconicity research can benefit from an integrated interdisciplinary perspective. Combining insights from psychology and neuroscience with evidence from natural languages provides us with opportunities for the experimental investigation of the role of sound-symbolism in language learning, language processing, and communication. The review finishes by describing how hypothesis-testing and model-building will help contribute to a cumulative science of sound-symbolism in human language.
  • San Roque, L., Kendrick, K. H., Norcliffe, E., Brown, P., Defina, R., Dingemanse, M., Dirksmeyer, T., Enfield, N. J., Floyd, S., Hammond, J., Rossi, G., Tufvesson, S., Van Putten, S., & Majid, A. (2015). Vision verbs dominate in conversation across cultures, but the ranking of non-visual verbs varies. Cognitive Linguistics, 26, 31-60. doi:10.1515/cog-2014-0089.

    Abstract

    To what extent does perceptual language reflect universals of experience and cognition, and to what extent is it shaped by particular cultural preoccupations? This paper investigates the universality~relativity of perceptual language by examining the use of basic perception terms in spontaneous conversation across 13 diverse languages and cultures. We analyze the frequency of perception words to test two universalist hypotheses: that sight is always a dominant sense, and that the relative ranking of the senses will be the same across different cultures. We find that references to sight outstrip references to the other senses, suggesting a pan-human preoccupation with visual phenomena. However, the relative frequency of the other senses was found to vary cross-linguistically. Cultural relativity was conspicuous as exemplified by the high ranking of smell in Semai, an Aslian language. Together these results suggest a place for both universal constraints and cultural shaping of the language of perception.
  • Verhoef, T., Roberts, S. G., & Dingemanse, M. (2015). Emergence of systematic iconicity: Transmission, interaction and analogy. In D. Noelle, R. Dale, A. S. Warlaumont, J. Yoshimi, T. Matlock, C. D. Jennings, & P. P. Maglio (Eds.), Proceedings of the 37th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2015) (pp. 2481-2486). Austin, Tx: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    Languages combine arbitrary and iconic signals. How do iconic signals emerge and when do they persist? We present an experimental study of the role of iconicity in the emergence of structure in an artificial language. Using an iterated communication game in which we control the signalling medium as well as the meaning space, we study the evolution of communicative signals in transmission chains. This sheds light on how affordances of the communication medium shape and constrain the mappability and transmissibility of form-meaning pairs. We find that iconic signals can form the building blocks for wider compositional patterns
  • Dingemanse, M., Blythe, J., & Dirksmeyer, T. (2014). Formats for other-initiation of repair across languages: An exercise in pragmatic typology. Studies in Language, 38, 5-43. doi:10.1075/sl.38.1.01din.

    Abstract

    In conversation, people have to deal with problems of speaking, hearing, and understanding. We report on a cross-linguistic investigation of the conversational structure of other-initiated repair (also known as collaborative repair, feedback, requests for clarification, or grounding sequences). We take stock of formats for initiating repair across languages (comparable to English huh?, who?, y’mean X?, etc.) and find that different languages make available a wide but remarkably similar range of linguistic resources for this function. We exploit the patterned variation as evidence for several underlying concerns addressed by repair initiation: characterising trouble, managing responsibility, and handling knowledge. The concerns do not always point in the same direction and thus provide participants in interaction with alternative principles for selecting one format over possible others. By comparing conversational structures across languages, this paper contributes to pragmatic typology: the typology of systems of language use and the principles that shape them
  • Dingemanse, M., & Enfield, N. J. (2014). Let's talk: Universal social rules underlie languages. Scientific American Mind, 25, 64-69. doi:10.1038/scientificamericanmind0914-64.

    Abstract

    Recent developments in the science of language signal the emergence of a new paradigm for language study: a social approach to the fundamental questions of what language is like, how much languages really have in common, and why only our species has it. The key to these developments is a new appreciation of the need to study everyday spoken language, with all its complications and ‘imperfections’, in a systematic way. The work reviewed in this article —on turn-taking, timing, and other-initiated repair in languages around the world— has important implications for our understanding of human sociality and sheds new light on the social shape of language. For the first time in the history of linguistics, we are no longer tied to what can be written down or thought up. Rather, we look at language as a biologist would: as it occurs in nature.
  • Dingemanse, M., & Floyd, S. (2014). Conversation across cultures. In N. J. Enfield, P. Kockelman, & J. Sidnell (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of linguistic anthropology (pp. 447-480). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Dingemanse, M., Torreira, F., & Enfield, N. J. (2014). Conversational infrastructure and the convergent evolution of linguistic items. In E. A. Cartmill, S. G. Roberts, H. Lyn, & H. Cornish (Eds.), The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 10th International Conference (pp. 425-426). Singapore: World Scientific.
  • Dingemanse, M. (2014). Making new ideophones in Siwu: Creative depiction in conversation. Pragmatics and Society, 5(3), 384-405. doi:10.1075/ps.5.3.04din.

    Abstract

    Ideophones are found in many of the world’s languages. Though they are a major word class on a par with nouns and verbs, their origins are ill-understood, and the question of ideophone creation has been a source of controversy. This paper studies ideophone creation in naturally occurring speech. New, unconventionalised ideophones are identified using native speaker judgements, and are studied in context to understand the rules and regularities underlying their production and interpretation. People produce and interpret new ideophones with the help of the semiotic infrastructure that underlies the use of existing ideophones: foregrounding frames certain stretches of speech as depictive enactments of sensory imagery, and various types of iconicity link forms and meanings. As with any creative use of linguistic resources, context and common ground also play an important role in supporting rapid ‘good enough’ interpretations of new material. The making of new ideophones is a special case of a more general phenomenon of creative depiction: the art of presenting verbal material in such a way that the interlocutor recognises and interprets it as a depiction.
  • Dingemanse, M., & Enfield, N. J. (2014). Ongeschreven regels van de taal. Psyche en Brein, 6, 6-11.

    Abstract

    Als je wereldwijd gesprekken beluistert, merk je dat de menselijke dialoog universele regels volgt. Die sturen en verrijken onze sociale interactie.
  • Dingemanse, M., Verhoef, T., & Roberts, S. G. (2014). The role of iconicity in the cultural evolution of communicative signals. In B. De Boer, & T. Verhoef (Eds.), Proceedings of Evolang X, Workshop on Signals, Speech, and Signs (pp. 11-15).
  • Dingemanse, M., Torreira, F., & Enfield, N. J. (2013). Is “Huh?” a universal word? Conversational infrastructure and the convergent evolution of linguistic items. PLoS One, 8(11): e78273. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078273.

    Abstract

    A word like Huh?–used as a repair initiator when, for example, one has not clearly heard what someone just said– is found in roughly the same form and function in spoken languages across the globe. We investigate it in naturally occurring conversations in ten languages and present evidence and arguments for two distinct claims: that Huh? is universal, and that it is a word. In support of the first, we show that the similarities in form and function of this interjection across languages are much greater than expected by chance. In support of the second claim we show that it is a lexical, conventionalised form that has to be learnt, unlike grunts or emotional cries. We discuss possible reasons for the cross-linguistic similarity and propose an account in terms of convergent evolution. Huh? is a universal word not because it is innate but because it is shaped by selective pressures in an interactional environment that all languages share: that of other-initiated repair. Our proposal enhances evolutionary models of language change by suggesting that conversational infrastructure can drive the convergent cultural evolution of linguistic items.
  • Dingemanse, M. (2013). Ideophones and gesture in everyday speech. Gesture, 13, 143-165. doi:10.1075/gest.13.2.02din.

    Abstract

    This article examines the relation between ideophones and gestures in a corpus of everyday discourse in Siwu, a richly ideophonic language spoken in Ghana. The overall frequency of ideophone-gesture couplings in everyday speech is lower than previously suggested, but two findings shed new light on the relation between ideophones and gesture. First, discourse type makes a difference: ideophone-gesture couplings are more frequent in narrative contexts, a finding that explains earlier claims, which were based not on everyday language use but on elicited narratives. Second, there is a particularly strong coupling between ideophones and one type of gesture: iconic gestures. This coupling allows us to better understand iconicity in relation to the affordances of meaning and modality. Ultimately, the connection between ideophones and iconic gestures is explained by reference to the depictive nature of both. Ideophone and iconic gesture are two aspects of the process of depiction
  • Dingemanse, M. (2013). Wie wir mit Sprache malen - How to paint with language. Forschungsbericht 2013 - Max-Planck-Institut für Psycholinguistik. In Max-Planck-Gesellschaft Jahrbuch 2013. München: Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved from http://www.mpg.de/6683977/Psycholinguistik_JB_2013.

    Abstract

    Words evolve not as blobs of ink on paper but in face to face interaction. The nature of language as fundamentally interactive and multimodal is shown by the study of ideophones, vivid sensory words that thrive in conversations around the world. The ways in which these Lautbilder enable precise communication about sensory knowledge has for the first time been studied in detail. It turns out that we can paint with language, and that the onomatopoeia we sometimes classify as childish might be a subset of a much richer toolkit for depiction in speech, available to us all.
  • Enfield, N. J., Dingemanse, M., Baranova, J., Blythe, J., Brown, P., Dirksmeyer, T., Drew, P., Floyd, S., Gipper, S., Gisladottir, R. S., Hoymann, G., Kendrick, K. H., Levinson, S. C., Magyari, L., Manrique, E., Rossi, G., San Roque, L., & Torreira, F. (2013). Huh? What? – A first survey in 21 languages. In M. Hayashi, G. Raymond, & J. Sidnell (Eds.), Conversational repair and human understanding (pp. 343-380). New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Abstract

    Introduction A comparison of conversation in twenty-one languages from around the world reveals commonalities and differences in the way that people do open-class other-initiation of repair (Schegloff, Jefferson, and Sacks, 1977; Drew, 1997). We find that speakers of all of the spoken languages in the sample make use of a primary interjection strategy (in English it is Huh?), where the phonetic form of the interjection is strikingly similar across the languages: a monosyllable featuring an open non-back vowel [a, æ, ə, ʌ], often nasalized, usually with rising intonation and sometimes an [h-] onset. We also find that most of the languages have another strategy for open-class other-initiation of repair, namely the use of a question word (usually “what”). Here we find significantly more variation across the languages. The phonetic form of the question word involved is completely different from language to language: e.g., English [wɑt] versus Cha'palaa [ti] versus Duna [aki]. Furthermore, the grammatical structure in which the repair-initiating question word can or must be expressed varies within and across languages. In this chapter we present data on these two strategies – primary interjections like Huh? and question words like What? – with discussion of possible reasons for the similarities and differences across the languages. We explore some implications for the notion of repair as a system, in the context of research on the typology of language use. The general outline of this chapter is as follows. We first discuss repair as a system across languages and then introduce the focus of the chapter: open-class other-initiation of repair. A discussion of the main findings follows, where we identify two alternative strategies in the data: an interjection strategy (Huh?) and a question word strategy (What?). Formal features and possible motivations are discussed for the interjection strategy and the question word strategy in order. A final section discusses bodily behavior including posture, eyebrow movements and eye gaze, both in spoken languages and in a sign language.
  • Dediu, D., & Dingemanse, M. (2012). More than accent: Linguistic and cultural cues in the emergence of tag-based cooperation [Commentary]. Current Anthropology, 53, 606-607. doi:10.1086/667654.

    Abstract

    Commentary on Cohen, E. (2012). The evolution of tag-based cooperation in humans: The case for accent. Current Anthropology, 53, 588-616. doi:10.1086/667654.
  • Dingemanse, M., Hammond, J., Stehouwer, H., Somasundaram, A., & Drude, S. (2012). A high speed transcription interface for annotating primary linguistic data. In Proceedings of 6th Workshop on Language Technology for Cultural Heritage, Social Sciences, and Humanities (pp. 7-12). Stroudsburg, PA: Association for Computational Linguistics.

    Abstract

    We present a new transcription mode for the annotation tool ELAN. This mode is designed to speed up the process of creating transcriptions of primary linguistic data (video and/or audio recordings of linguistic behaviour). We survey the basic transcription workflow of some commonly used tools (Transcriber, BlitzScribe, and ELAN) and describe how the new transcription interface improves on these existing implementations. We describe the design of the transcription interface and explore some further possibilities for improvement in the areas of segmentation and computational enrichment of annotations.
  • Dingemanse, M. (2012). Advances in the cross-linguistic study of ideophones. Language and Linguistics Compass, 6, 654-672. doi:10.1002/lnc3.361.

    Abstract

    Ideophones are marked words that depict sensory imagery found in many of the world’s languages. They are noted for their special forms, distinct grammatical behaviour, rich sensory meanings, and interactional uses related to experience and evidentiality. This review surveys recent developments in ideophone research. Work on the semiotics of ideophones helps explain why they are marked and how they realise the depictive potential of speech. A true semantic typology of ideophone systems is coming within reach through a combination of language-internal analyses and language-independent elicitation tools. Documentation of ideophones in a wide variety of genres as well as sequential analysis of ideophone use in natural discourse leads to new insights about their interactional uses and about their relation to other linguistic devices like reported speech and grammatical evidentials. As the study of ideophones is coming of age, it sheds new light on what is possible and probable in human language.
  • Dingemanse, M. (2012). Kleurt taal je wereldbeeld? Over de relatie tussen taal en denken. In M. Boogaard, & M. Jansen (Eds.), Alles wat je altijd al had willen weten over taal: De taalcanon (pp. 209-211). Amsterdam: Meulenhoff.

    Abstract

    Mensen groeien op in verschillende omgevingen, met verschillende ervaringen en verschillende talen. Betekent dat ook dat ze verschillend denken? En als er invloed is van taal op denken, hoe ver reikt die dan? Wordt ons denken begrensd door woorden, of is de invloed meer gematigd en kunnen we er soms zelfs aan ontkomen?
  • Dingemanse, M., & Majid, A. (2012). The semantic structure of sensory vocabulary in an African language. In N. Miyake, D. Peebles, & R. P. Cooper (Eds.), Proceedings of the 34th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2012) (pp. 300-305). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    The widespread occurrence of ideophones, large classes of words specialized in evoking sensory imagery, is little known outside linguistics and anthropology. Ideophones are a common feature in many of the world’s languages but are underdeveloped in English and other Indo-European languages. Here we study the meanings of ideophones in Siwu (a Kwa language from Ghana) using a pile-sorting task. The goal was to uncover the underlying structure of the lexical space and to examine the claimed link between ideophones and perception. We found that Siwu ideophones are principally organized around fine-grained aspects of sensory perception, and map onto salient psychophysical dimensions identified in sensory science. The results ratify ideophones as dedicated sensory vocabulary and underline the relevance of ideophones for research on language and perception.
  • Dingemanse, M. (2011). Ezra Pound among the Mawu: Ideophones and iconicity in Siwu. In P. Michelucci, O. Fischer, & C. Ljungberg (Eds.), Semblance and Signification (pp. 39-54). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

    Abstract

    The Mawu people of eastern Ghana make common use of ideophones: marked words that depict sensory imagery. Ideophones have been described as “poetry in ordinary language,” yet the shadow of Lévy-Bruhl, who assigned such words to the realm of primitivity, has loomed large over linguistics and literary theory alike. The poet Ezra Pound is a case in point: while his fascination with Chinese characters spawned the ideogrammic method, the mimicry and gestures of the “primitive languages in Africa” were never more than a mere curiosity to him. This paper imagines Pound transposed into the linguaculture of the Mawu. What would have struck him about their ways of ‘charging language’ with imagery? I juxtapose Pound’s views of the poetic image with an analysis of how different layers of iconicity in ideophones combine to depict sensory imagery. This exercise illuminates aspects of what one might call ‘the ideophonic

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  • Dingemanse, M. (2011). Ideophones and the aesthetics of everyday language in a West-African society. The Senses & Society, 6(1), 77-85. doi:10.2752/174589311X12893982233830.

    Abstract

    This article explores language, culture, and the perceptual world as reflected in a particular linguistic device: ideophones, marked words that depict sensory imagery. Data from a range of elicitation tasks shows that ideophones are a key resource in talking about sensory perception in Siwu. Their use in everyday conversations underlines their communicative versatility while at the same time showing that people delight in their expressiveness. In ideophones, we have an expressive resource that combines sheer playfulness with extraordinary precision
  • Dingemanse, M., Van Leeuwen, T., & Majid, A. (2011). Mapping across senses: Two cross-modal association tasks. In K. Kendrick, & A. Majid (Eds.), Field manual volume 14 (pp. 11-15). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.1005579.
  • Dingemanse, M. (2011). The meaning and use of ideophones in Siwu. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.

    Supplementary material

    http://thesis.ideophone.org/
  • Dingemanse, M. (2010). [Review of Talking voices: Repetition, dialogue, and imagery in conversational discourse. 2nd edition. By Deborah Tannen]. Language in Society, 39(1), 139-140. doi:10.1017/S0047404509990765.

    Abstract

    Reviews the book, Talking voices: Repetition, dialogue, and imagery in conversational discourse. 2nd edition by Deborah Tannen. This book is the same as the 1989 original except for an added introduction. This introduction situates TV in the context of intertextuality and gives a survey of relevant research since the book first appeared. The strength of the book lies in its insightful analysis of the auditory side of conversation. Yet talking voices have always been embedded in richly contextualized multimodal speech events. As spontaneous and pervasive involvement strategies, both iconic gestures and ideophones should be of central importance to the analysis of conversational discourse. Unfortunately, someone who picks up this book is pretty much left in the dark about the prevalence of these phenomena in everyday face-to-face interaction all over the world.
  • Dingemanse, M. (2010). Folk definitions of ideophones. In E. Norcliffe, & N. J. Enfield (Eds.), Field manual volume 13 (pp. 24-29). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.529151.

    Abstract

    Ideophones are marked words that depict sensory events, for example English hippety-hoppety ‘in a limping and hobbling manner’ or Siwu mukumuku ‘mouth movements of a toothless person eating’. They typically have special sound patterns and distinct grammatical properties. Ideophones are found in many languages of the world, suggesting a common fascination with detailed sensory depiction, but reliable data on their meaning and use is still very scarce. This task involves video-recording spontaneous, informal explanations (“folk definitions”) of individual ideophones by native speakers, in their own language. The approach facilitates collection of rich primary data in a planned context while ensuring a large amount of spontaneity and freedom.
  • Dingemanse, M. (2009). Kããã [finalist photo in the 2008 AAA Photo Contest]. Anthropology News, 50(3), 23-23.

    Abstract

    Kyeei Yao, an age group leader, oversees a festival in Akpafu-Mempeasem, Volta Region, Ghana. The expensive draped cloth, Ashanti-inspired wreath, strings of beads that are handed down through the generations, and digital wristwatch work together to remind us that culture is a moving target, always renewing and reshaping itself. Kããã is a Siwu ideophone for "looking attentively".
  • Dingemanse, M. (2009). Ideophones in unexpected places. In P. K. Austin, O. Bond, M. Charette, D. Nathan, & P. Sells (Eds.), Proceedings of the 2nd Conference on Language Documentation and Linguistic Theory (pp. 83-97). London: School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).
  • Dingemanse, M. (2009). The enduring spoken word [Comment on Oard 2008]. Science, 323(5917), 1010-1011. doi:10.1126/science.323.5917.1010b.
  • Dingemanse, M. (2009). The selective advantage of body-part terms. Journal of Pragmatics, 41(10), 2130-2136. doi:10.1016/j.pragma.2008.11.008.

    Abstract

    This paper addresses the question why body-part terms are so often used to talk about other things than body parts. It is argued that the strategy of falling back on stable common ground to maximize the chances of successful communication is the driving force behind the selective advantage of body-part terms. The many different ways in which languages may implement this universal strategy suggest that, in order to properly understand the privileged role of the body in the evolution of linguistic signs, we have to look beyond the body to language in its socio-cultural context. A theory which acknowledges the interacting influences of stable common ground and diversified cultural practices on the evolution of linguistic signs will offer the most explanatory power for both universal patterns and language-specific variation.
  • Majid, A., van Leeuwen, T., & Dingemanse, M. (2009). Synaesthesia: A cross-cultural pilot. In A. Majid (Ed.), Field manual volume 12 (pp. 8-13). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.883570.

    Abstract

    Synaesthesia is a condition in which stimulation of one sensory modality (e.g. hearing) causes additional experiences in a second, unstimulated modality (e.g. seeing colours). The goal of this task is to explore the types (and incidence) of synaesthesia in different cultures. Two simple tests can ascertain the existence of synaesthesia in your community.

    Supplementary material

    2009_Synaesthesia_audio_files.zip
  • Dingemanse, M. (2008). [Review of Phonology Assistant 3.0.1: From Sil International]. Language Documentation & Conversation, 2(2), 325-331. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10125/4350.
  • Dingemanse, M. (2008). [Review of the book Semantic assignment rules in Bantu classes: A reanalysis based on Kiswahili by Assibi A. Amidu]. Afrikanistik Online.
  • Dingemanse, M., Hill, C., Majid, A., & Levinson, S. C. (2008). Ethnography of the senses. In A. Majid (Ed.), Field manual volume 11 (pp. 18-28). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.492935.

    Abstract

    This entry provides some orientation and task suggestions on how to explore the perceptual world of your field site and the interaction between the cultural world and the sensory lexicon in your community. The material consists of procedural texts; soundscapes; other documentary and observational tasks. The goal of this task is to explore the perceptual world of your field site and the interaction between the cultural world and the sensory lexicon in your community.
  • Dingemanse, M. (2008). WALS online [review]. Elanguage. Retrieved from http://elanguage.net/blogs/booknotices/?p=69.
  • Majid, A., van Leeuwen, T., & Dingemanse, M. (2008). Synaesthesia: A cross-cultural pilot. In A. Majid (Ed.), Field manual volume 11 (pp. 37-41). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.492960.

    Abstract

    This Field Manual entry has been superceded by the 2009 version: https://doi.org/10.17617/2.883570

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  • Dingemanse, M. (2006). The body in Yoruba: A linguistic study. Master Thesis, Leiden University, Leiden.
  • Dingemanse, M. (2006). The semantics of Bantu noun classification: A review and comparison of three approaches. Master Thesis, Leiden University.

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