Ideophones in Siwu

Revised and published as:

  • 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

This chapter presents the ideophone system of Siwu. Traversing different levels of linguistic structure, from phonology and phonotactics to word forms to grammatical constructions, it shows that ideophones form a clearly recognizable word class. Corpus data sheds light on possible grammaticalisation paths and on relations to other word classes.

Ideophonic constructions in Siwu

Below are audio clips exemplifying the five contructions in which ideophones occur in the Siwu corpus. (See Table 6.5 in the thesis.)

Adverbial (ex. 94)
“Our neighbours, he silenced them kananananananana
Attributive (ex. 95, repeated as 105)
“Now this stuff here, it looks ɖɔbɔrɔɔɔɔɔ [soft]”
Utterance (ex. 97)
“Just like Kàntɔ, the way he does his stuff. Tsintsintsintsintsin!”
Adjectival (ex. 99)
“We’ve got a sturdy (gbogboro) man here.”
Predicative (ex. 102, repeated as 106)
“The day before yesterday, me and Tasì wrung [the palm fruit fibre] because it was becoming soft (ɖɔbɔrɔɔ)”

Data extracts

Extract 6.1: Oops… it came out tsùrù