Why are languages the way they are? What makes complex communication possible? My research formulates new answers to these questions by studying how language is shaped by and for social interaction.
I am Associate Professor in Language and Communication at Radboud University Nijmegen. I’m also PI of Elementary Particles of Conversation, a collaborative and transdisciplinary research programme on the small words that streamline everyday language use. The research in my group is funded by a Vidi talent grant from the Dutch Research Council NWO (2018-2024) and by collaborations with the Language in Interaction consortium. Find out more about my research and publications.
Three key papers
- Dingemanse, M., Liesenfeld, A., Rasenberg, M., Albert, S., Ameka, F. K., Birhane, A., Bolis, D., Cassell, J., Clift, R., Cuffari, E., De Jaegher, H., Dutilh Novaes, C., Enfield, N. J., Fusaroli, R., Gregoromichelaki, E., Hutchins, E., Konvalinka, I., Milton, D., Rączaszek-Leonardi, J., Reddy, V., Rossano, F., Schlangen, D., Seibt, J., Stokoe, E., Suchman, L. A., Vesper, C., Wheatley, T., & Wiltschko, M. (2023). Beyond single-mindedness: A figure-ground reversal for the cognitive sciences. Cognitive Science, 47(1): e13230. (doi, pdf, website) — a transdisciplinary manifesto for putting interaction at the heart of cognition
- Dingemanse, M. & Liesenfeld, A. (2022). From text to talk: Harnessing conversational corpora for humane and diversity-aware language technology. Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers), (doi, pdf) — now is the time to pivot from text to talk
- Heesen, R., Fröhlich, M., Sievers, C., Woensdregt, M., & Dingemanse, M. (2022). Coordinating social action: A primer for the cross-species investigation of communicative repair. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 377(1859), 20210110. (doi, pdf) — cross-species communicative ethology of repair
I am a linguist based in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. My research focuses on how language is shaped by and for social interaction. My views on language are informed by fieldwork in eastern Ghana, comparative research on a diverse range of languages, and a strong interdisciplinary orientation that includes anthropology, sociology, and cognitive science.
I greatly enjoy reading, writing, and finding out new things. A combination of privilege, opportunity, and talent has so far allowed me to do this in academia. As a first generation PhD in my family, I do not take any of this for granted.
Here are three books that are important to me, in the order in which I discovered them:
- Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach, for providing a taste of cognitive science at its best: playful, curious, and without limits in terms of topic or method.
- Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, for capturing the complexities and ambiguities that are part of the story of humans through place and time.
- Ursula Le Guin’s Hainish Cycle, for combining a deep anthropological sensitivity with an awe-inspiring cosmic perspective on human diversity.
Three niche papers
These are papers I’m proud of even if they have managed to remain a bit obscure (so far).
- Dingemanse, M. (2020). Recruiting assistance and collaboration: a West-African corpus study. In S. Floyd, G. Rossi, & N. J. Enfield (Eds.), Getting others to do things: A pragmatic typology of recruitments (pp. 369–421). Language Science Press. doi: 10.5281/zenodo.4018388 ► pdf
(how to get others to do things, with some potential universals to boot)
- 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 ► pdf
(on a procedure that is part of many field work routines, but seldomly appreciated as a method of its own)
- Dingemanse, Mark. 2017. Brain-to-brain interfaces and the role of language in distributing agency. In Enfield, N. J. & Kockelman, Paul (eds.), Distributed Agency, 59–66. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190457204.003.0007) ► pdf
(what the science of human interaction tells us about brain bridges)