Mark Dingemanse

Publications

Displaying 1 - 18 of 18
  • 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. (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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. 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. (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. (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., & 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. (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.
  • 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. (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., 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. (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.
  • 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., 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.
  • 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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