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

Category: Linguistics

  • Waarom roep je ‘au’ bij plotselinge pijn?

    Voor het Kennislink Vragenboek beantwoordde ik de vraag: “Waarom roep je ‘au!’ bij plotselinge pijn?”. Dat is kennelijk een vraag die nogal leeft, want vorig jaar stelde Labyrint radio me dezelfde vraag en dit voorjaar was het raak op Hoe?Zo! radio. Daarom hier, als service voor zoekers, tweeters en andere au-gefascineerden, mijn antwoord. In deze […]

  • On “unwritten” and “oral” languages

    The world’s many endangered languages are often characterized as “unwritten” and “oral” languages. Both of these terms reveal the language ideologies still implicit in many academic approaches to language: “unwritten” defines by negation, revealing a bias towards stable, standardized abstractions of communicative behaviour (away from a dynamic conception of situated talk-in-interaction); and “oral” defines by […]

  • Better science through listening to lay people

    Slides for a presentation given at the ECSITE 2013 Annual Conference on science communication. I spoke in a session convened by Alex Verkade (De Praktijk) and Jen Wong (Guerilla Science). The other speakers in the session were Bas Haring on ‘Ignorance is a virtue’, and Jen Wong on ‘Mixing science with art, music and play’. We […]

  • Evolving words — now on DLC

    “A struggle for life is constantly going on among quotations in academic writings. The better, the shorter, the easier forms are constantly gaining the upper hand and they owe their success to their own inherent virtue.” Sounds familiar? Perhaps because it’s a variation on a bon mot attributed to Charles Darwin that you may have seen in […]

  • *Grammatically judgements

    I stumbled on a paper which is titled (according to the journal metadata and countless secondary sources) Grammatically Judgments and Second Language Acquisition. Read again if you didn’t spot the grammatically error in there. I was just about to add it to my Zotero collection of articles with recursive titles1 when I decided to check whether […]

  • Magritte on Words and Images (PDF)

    Magritte’s best known work by far is of course his drawing of a pipe with the text Ceci n’est pas une pipe. He made several versions over the years, but the work originated in 1928 or 1929. The title Magritte gave to this painting is La trahison des images — the treachery of images. Less well known […]

  • Description and depiction

    Note to readers: A version of this argument has been written up and published as: Dingemanse, Mark. 2015. “Ideophones and reduplication: Depiction, description, and the interpretation of repeated talk in discourse.” Studies in Language 39 (4): 946–970. doi:10.1075/sl.39.4.05din (PDF). Depiction is a technical term used in psychology1, philosophy2, and art history3, but less so in linguistics4. One […]

  • AVT/Anéla Dissertation Award 2012

    This weekend, at the annual Taalgala ceremony in Utrecht, I was awarded the AVT/Anéla Dissertatieprijs 2012 for my dissertation The Meaning and Use of Ideophones in Siwu. For this prize, jointly presented by the Dutch Society for General Linguistics and the Dutch Association for Applied Linguistics, an independent jury selects the best dissertation in linguistics in The […]

  • Slides on ideophones and reduplication

    Slides for a plenary I gave at the Total Reduplication workshop organised by Daniela Rossi. The other plenary speakers were David Gil (MPI-EVA), Thomas Stolz (U. Bremen), and Silvia Kouwenberg (UWI, Mona).

  • Two recent studies of ideophones in the Americas

    A quick heads up to note the publication of two nice studies of ideophones by Americanists Janis Nuckolls (BYU) and Elena Mihas (James Cook University). The first, by Janis Nuckolls, is “Ideophones in Bodily Experiences in Pastaza Quichua (Ecuador)“. It appeared in the proceedings of STLILLA 2011. The latest iteration in a long and fruitful […]

  • Advances in the cross-linguistic study of ideophones

    Just out: a review of ideophone research by yours truly, titled Advances in the cross-linguistic study of ideophones, published in Language and Linguistics Compass. This article focuses on some recent developments in ideophone research. Some of the things it offers include a cross-linguistically viable definition of ideophones; an argument for why ideophones are structurally marked; a […]

  • Curse or blessing? Africa’s linguistic heritage in the 21st century

    Curse or blessing? Africa’s linguistic heritage in the 21st century

    Slides for a plenary address delivered at the 2011 African Studies Day, organised by the Netherlands Association of African Studies. The theme of the day was “Africa’s cultural heritage”.

  • What’s wrong with “vivid”? The evolution of a definition

    Ideophones, like so many things in life, are easy to identify but hard to define. Many researchers have grumbled about the shortcomings of Doke’s descriptive characterization of ideophones (see discussion here), but few have attempted to formulate an alternative. For better or worse, I did,1 but it took me a few iterations to arrive at […]

  • Daniel Dor on grammaticality judgements

    I’ve been reading Daniel Dor’s manuscript Language as a Communication Technology (available here), and found this observation on grammaticality judgements insightful: When a speaker follows the conventionalized rules to the letter, the endproduct (the actual fragment of speech) is judged by the other members of the community as grammatical. When making this judgment, the other […]

  • On the use of structural criteria in defining ideophones

    Note to readers: Portions of this post have been revised and published in the following paper: Dingemanse, Mark. 2019. “Ideophone” as a comparative concept. In Akita, Kimi & Pardeshi, Prashant (eds.), Ideophones, Mimetics, Expressives, 13–33. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. (doi:10.1075/ill.16.02din) (PDF) Recently I’ve been having a conversation with Roger Blench about whether structural markedness should play […]

  • Phonosemantics, Chinese characters, and coerced iconicity

    Update: SemiotiX issue XN-8 features a revised and expanded version of this essay. The linguistic blogosphere featured some posts recently on the topic of phonosymbolism, phonosemantics, and Chinese characters. It started with a post by Victor Mair over at Language Log, outlining several approaches to “etymologizing” Chinese characters. A follow-up by David Branner highlighted some of […]

  • Transcription mode in ELAN

    A new version of ELAN, the widely used tool for time-aligned annotation of linguistic data, was released today by the developers, Han Sloetjes and Aarthy Somasundaram. One of its major features is a whole new user interface for high-speed transcription. This interface is the outcome of a process of user consultation and usability testing at […]

  • The LSA Language Anthology survey: some additional data

    The LSA asks its members in a survey to choose the most important papers in Language, 1925-2000. Have you ever wondered what might be the most cited ones? The Linguistic Society of America (LSA) is currently doing a member survey to collect suggestions for an anthology of the most influential and significant articles published in […]

  • Now online:

    We’ve been working on this for quite some time, and we’re excited to go live now: the L&C Field Manuals and Stimulus Materials. This is a website providing access to many of the field manuals produced over the years by the Language and Cognition Group at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. As the front […]

  • Transcribing linguistic data: bottlenecks and one way to speed up

    Transient Languages & Cultures published a nice post by Peter Austin last month on the question of how much time it takes to transcribe linguistic data. Working under tight time constraints during some recent fieldtrips, I found one way to speed the process up. It still takes an awful lot of time, but here goes.