My consultant Ruben Owiafe's explanation of what it means to provide folk definitions is insightful in terms of both its content and form. As he explained, they enable you to see one thing in terms of another: "If you see this here" (points to his right), "you see how it is here" (points to his left)
(Dingemanse 2015 · PDF)

My dear friend Ruben Owiafe was one of the most colourful Siwu teachers I had. His explanation of what it means to provide folk definitions is insightful in terms of both its content and form. As he explained, they enable you to see one thing in terms of another: “If you see this here” (points to his right), “you see how it is here” (points to his left). Figures and diagrams in academic publications serve the same kind of purpose. They provide us with different ways of seeing, and help us understand by analogy.

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The relation between structural markedness and funniness ratings (A), iconicity ratings (B), and funniness and iconicity together (C), in a set of 1.419 English words. Each dot represents 14 or 15 words. Solid line with smoothed mean shows cumulative markedness. Other lines show relative prevalence of complex onsets (flap), codas (clunk), and verbal diminutives (drizzle). Higher structural markedness goes together with higher iconicity and funniness ratings.
(Dingemanse & Thompson 2020 · PDF)

The relation between structural markedness and funniness ratings (A), iconicity ratings (B), and funniness and iconicity together (C), in a set of 1.419 English words. Each dot represents 14 or 15 words. Solid line with smoothed mean shows cumulative markedness. Other lines show relative prevalence of complex onsets (flap), codas (clunk), and verbal diminutives (drizzle). Higher structural markedness goes together with higher iconicity and funniness ratings. This supports the theory of structural markedness as a metacommunicative cue.

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Elements of other-initiated repair. A repair sequence consists of a repair initiation that points back to a prior turn (identifying it as a trouble source) and points forward to a next turn (the repair solution).
(Dingemanse et al. 2015 · PDF)

Elements of other-initiated repair. A repair sequence consists of a repair initiation that points back to a prior turn (identifying it as a trouble source) and points forward to a next turn (the repair solution). The visual style of this schematic was adapted in a broader account of repair in conversation by Albert & De Ruiter.

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(Dingemanse 2011)

Nouns in Siwu come with noun class prefixes that also mark number (singular, plural, or mass). Most grammars present such classes as simple SG/PL class pairings, making it hard to see underlying regularities. In this diagram, line thickness shows relative frequency. This kind of visualization is helpful for learners but also for linguists, who may be able to use it in work on grammaticalization and change.

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Repair initiations are quick clarificatory questions like Huh?, Who?, You mean that one?. Every format for repair initiation has retrospective aspects (how it targets trouble in a prior turn) and prospective aspects (what type of response it makes relevant in a next turn). The two dimensions together define three basic types of formats for repair initiation: open request, restricted request, and restricted offer. These three are attested in every language studied so far.

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So she was weird today," Kofi says. In response to Aku's "What?", Kofi closes his eyes and moves jerkely from side to side. All present turn to him to watch. Aku checks: "The spirit- the spirit's been coming again?" Kofi confirms and tells a story of spirit possession.
(Dingemanse & Floyd 2014 · PDF)

“So she was weird today,” Kofi says. In response to Aku’s “What?”, Kofi closes his eyes and moves jerkily from side to side. All present turn to him to watch. Aku checks: “The spirit- the spirit’s been coming again?” Kofi confirms and tells a story of spirit possession. The segment, only a few seconds long, illustrates both universal and culture-specific aspects of social interaction.

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There are a myriad ways to refer to places, but one useful way to think about their affordances in interaction is in terms of a distinction between locations and settings. Locations tell you where something is; settings invoke activities and actors. Many place references usefully combine the two.
(Dingemanse, Rossi & Floyd 2017 · PDF)

There are a myriad ways to refer to places, but one useful way to think about their affordances in interaction is in terms of a distinction between locations and settings. Locations tell you where something is; settings invoke activities and actors. Many place references usefully combine the two: setting a story in the graveyard area not only localizes it for the audience in the know, but also provides a setting for ominous encounters.

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 In explaining the ideophone minimini, four speakers of Siwu independently use gestures that are both similar (in depicting a spherical shape) and different (in size, handshape, and method of representation). Collectively, the gestures illustrate an elusive aspect of the ideophone's meaning while also showing that its linguistic form as spoken word is more conventionalized than the gestures it comes with.
(Dingemanse 2013 · PDF)

Ideophones have rich imagistic meanings that can be hard to describe. In explaining the ideophone minimini, four speakers of Siwu independently use gestures that are both similar (in depicting a spherical shape) and different (in size, handshape, and method of representation). Collectively, the gestures illustrate an elusive aspect of the ideophone’s meaning while also showing that its linguistic form as spoken word is more conventionalized than the gestures it comes with.

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Vowel-colour associations for 1164 participants (central panel), showing, clockwise from bottom left, (a) a participant with very low structure yet high consistency across trials, probably a false positive synaesthete, (b) a typical nonsynaesthete with mappings that are both inconsistent and unstructured; (c) a middling participant with significant structure but inconistent choices across trials; (d) a highly structured but inconsistent participant; and (e) a typical vowel-colour synaesthete, with highly structure, consistent and categorical mappings.
(Cuskley, Dingemanse et al. 2019 · PDF)

Vowel-colour associations for 1164 participants (central panel), showing, clockwise from bottom left, (a) a participant with very low structure yet high consistency across trials, probably a false positive synaesthete, (b) a typical nonsynaesthete with mappings that are both inconsistent and unstructured; (c) a middling participant with significant structure but inconistent choices across trials; (d) a highly structured but inconsistent participant; and (e) a typical vowel-colour synaesthete, with highly structured, consistent and categorical mappings.

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A word like huh? —used to initiate repair when, for example, one has not clearly heard what someone just said— is found in roughly the same form in 31 spoken languages from across the globe. Shown is a world map with dots corresponding to the languages; see linked paper for details.
(Dingemanse, Torreira & Enfield 2013 · PDF)

A word like huh? —used to initiate repair when, for example, one has not clearly heard what someone just said— is found in roughly the same form and function in conversational corpora from 31 spoken languages from across the globe. The ten in bold are examined in phonetic detail and found to be about as similar to each other as variants of the word dog across English varieties.

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Pitch trace of a Japanese utterance starting with two tokens of the ideophone zabɯ:n 'splash', showing how it is produced in the upper part of the speaker's pitch range. This illustrates the special treatment that ideophones often get in everyday speech, which makes them stand out from the surrounding material.
(Dingemanse & Akita 2017 · PDF)

Pitch trace of a Japanese utterance starting with two tokens of the ideophone zabɯ:n ‘splash’, showing how they are produced in the upper part of the speaker’s pitch range, and how their articulation is drawn out relative to other non-ideophonic elements in the utterance. This illustrates the special treatment that ideophones often get in everyday speech, which makes them stand out from the surrounding material.

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The cultural evolution of continuous signals over 4 generations in a single experimental chain of iterated communication. Colour represents communicative success. Through trial and error, participants in consecutive trials narrow down to a set of signals that is both iconic (in mirroring aspects of form) and systematic (in using slope direction to signal the way animals are facing). This represents in miniature form how iconicity can provide the building blocks for systematicity in linguistic systems.

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Interactive repair —when people work together to fix trouble in conversation— is quite common. In these 12 languages from around the world, it takes only 84 seconds on average between one repair sequence and the next. The sheer frequency shows how important repair is as a system that keeps conversation on track and helps us negotiate common understanding in a world full of noise.
(Dingemanse et al. 2015 · PDF)

Interactive repair —when people work together to fix trouble in conversation— is quite common. In these 12 languages from around the world, it takes only 84 seconds on average between one repair sequence and the next. The sheer frequency shows how important repair is as a system that keeps conversation on track and helps us negotiate common understanding in a world full of noise. We are united in asking questions.

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(James Yang for Scientific American, Dingemanse & Enfield 2014)