Mark Dingemanse

Publications

Displaying 1 - 12 of 12
  • 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

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