Mark Dingemanse

Publications

Displaying 1 - 6 of 6
  • 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). 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). 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., 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.
  • Nielsen, A., & Dingemanse, M. (in press). Iconicity in word learning and beyond: A critical review. Language and Speech.

    Abstract

    Interest in iconicity (the resemblance-based mapping between aspects of form and meaning) is in the midst of a resurgence, and a prominent focus in the field has been the possible role of iconicity in language learning. Here we critically review theory and empirical findings in this domain. We distinguish local learning enhancement (where iconicity influences learning at the level of individual iconic lexical items) and general learning enhancement (where iconicity influences the later learning of non-iconic items or systems). We find that evidence for local learning enhancement is quite strong, though not as clear cut as it is often described and based on a limited number of languages. Despite common claims about broader facilitatory effects of iconicity on learning, we find that current evidence for general learning enhancement is lacking. We suggest a number of productive avenues for future research and specify what types of evidence would be required to show a role for iconicity general learning enhancement. We also review evidence for functions of iconicity beyond word learning: iconicity enhances comprehension by providing complementary representations, supports communication about sensory imagery, and expresses affective meanings. Even if learning benefits may be small or diffuse in nature, on balance, iconicity emerges as a vital aspect of language.

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