Mark Dingemanse

Publications

Displaying 1 - 6 of 6
  • 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.

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