Sounding out ideas on language, vivid sensory words, and iconicity

Category: Iconicity

  • Consolidating iconicity research

    Consolidating iconicity research

    Readers of this blog know that I believe serendipity is a key element of fundamental research. There is something neatly paradoxical about this claim. We might like ‘key elements’ to be plannable so that we can account for them on budgets and balance sheets. But here is an element that I think can make a […]

  • New paper – What do we really measure when we measure iconicity?

    It’s a common misconception that iconicity or sound symbolism is universal, perpetuated in part by the almost universal success of famous experiments involving pseudowords like bouba and kiki. But iconicity in natural languages is much more messy than paradigms like bouba-kiki suggest. Which begs the question, what do we really measure when we measure iconicity? This is what our new paper investigates.

  • Playful iconicity: Having fun with words

    What do words like waddle, slobber, tingle, oink, and zigzag have in common? These words sound funny, but they are also iconic, with forms that resemble aspects of their meanings. In a new paper we investigate the link between funniness and iconicity in 70,000 English words. “This is play” The starting point is a theory about metacommunication: some words (or signs) are more striking than others in terms of […]

  • Integrating Iconicity: session at ICLC15

    I’m happy to co-convene a session to take place at the International Cognitive Linguistics Conference in Nishinomiya, Japan. The session and general discussion will be chaired by Thomas van Hoey (National Taiwan University) and Jonas Nölle (University of Edinburgh) and has a diverse roster of speakers. Friday August 9, Room 301, 13:15 to 17:25 Speakers: […]

  • What is ‘non-lexical’? Notes on non-lexical vocalisations, II

    New! Some of this is now published here (open access, free for all!): Dingemanse, Mark. 2020. Between Sound and Speech: Liminal Signs in Interaction. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 53(1), 188–196.  doi:10.1080/08351813.2020.1712967 (PDF) TL;DR — Non-lexical is a term people use for things that seem borderline linguistic, like sniffs, coughs, and grunts. However, it’s rarely a great […]

  • A variety of vocal depictions: Notes on non-lexical vocalisations, I

    Last week I was happy to present my work at a workshop on Ideophones and nonlexical vocalisations in Linköping, Sweden, organised by Leelo Keevallik and Emily Hofstetter. This was the kick-off for a new project on “Non-lexical vocalisations“. It was my first time in Linköping and it was great getting to know the vibrant community of […]

  • New paper: Redrawing the margins of language

    Just out in Glossa, the premier open access journal of general linguistics: Dingemanse, Mark. 2018. “Redrawing the Margins of Language: Lessons from Research on Ideophones.” Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics 3 (1): 1–30. doi:10.5334/gjgl.444. (download PDF) In this paper I take up the theme of marginality (as distinct from rarity) from my 2017 essay, […]

  • When publication lag turns predictions into postdictions

    In late 2011, I defended my PhD thesis and submitted two papers on ideophones. One to Language and Linguistics Compass, where it was reviewed, revised and accepted in May 2012. It appeared in late 2012 and against all odds (for a topic so obscure) went on to become the #1 most cited article in that […]

  • Making and breaking iconicity

    Making and breaking iconicity

    Making and breaking iconicity was the theme of a plenary lecture I gave at the 6th conference of the Scandinavian Association for Language and Cognition (SALC VI) in Lund. Here’s the opening slide: Research on iconicity and sound symbolism has long focused on how iconic associations are made — finding universal crossmodal associations using pseudowords like bouba […]