Liesenfeld & Dingemanse 2022 Interspeech

Response tokens like English mhmm, uhuhh, yeah or Catalan mm, , vale are tricky to study in the wild: their phonetic realizations can be quite different from how they are transcribed. Here we use UMAP, a method for dimensionality reduction used in bioacoustics and other fields, to explore the shape of inventories of response tokens in 16 languages. Every point represents a single response token; the closer two points are the more similar they are acoustically. Spectrograms drawn around the rim of the plots provide a direct view of the acoustic structure of tokens and enable quick sanity checks.

━━━━━━

Dingemanse & Liesenfeld 2022 ACL

Most NLP methods and models focus on text rather than talk. What are they missing? Scattertext plot of words and phrases characteristic of spoken interaction (green) versus written text (purple) in English, with words most characteristic of conversational interaction in the upper left (and shown in a separate inset on the right). High-frequency metacommunicative interjections like uhhuh, hm, wow, um are most typical of talk, and most often underrepresented in text.

━━━━━━

Dingemanse & Liesenfeld 2022 ACL

Even apparently universal patterns (like the use of ‘mhm’ during tellings) can show important cross-cultural differences. A. Continuers (marked ○) are among the most frequent recipient behaviours in both English and Korean, shown here in four 80 second stretches of tellings. B. However, the relative frequency of continuers is about twice as high in Korean based on 100 random samples of 80 second segments in both languages: on average, 21% of turns are continuers in Korean, against 9% of turns in English (measures expressed this way to control for speech rate differences).

━━━━━━

Winter, Sóskuthy, Perlman & Dingemanse 2022 (this map: OSF)

In spoken languages around the world, words describing rough textures are especially likely to featured a trilled /r/. We probe this pattern in four studies: (1) in 332 languages of 25 language families around the world; (2) in 38 present-day Indo-European languages and in the roots of Proto-Indo-European, going back 6 milennia; (3) in English sensory words rated for roughness; and (4) in a matched sample of sensory words in Hungarian, a language unrelated to English.

━━━━━━

(Heesen, Fröhlich, Sievers, Woensdregt & Dingemanse 2022 · preprint)

Types of redoings of communicative behaviour and their interactional contingency. This diagram sums up the species-agnostic framework for studying communicative repair we introduce in a wide-ranging review of animal communication systems.

━━━━━━

(Pouw, Dingemanse, Motamedi & özyürek 2021 · PDF)

Setup of a study using motion tracking to investigate continuous properties of evolving manual signals. Panel a: Seed gestures for a fixed set of meanings are learned by next generations in an iterative learning experiment. Panel b: Using motion tracking, we derive automatic kinematic measures of entropy, temporal variability and intermittency over time and over generations.

━━━━━━

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.

━━━━━━

(Dingemanse 2020, Technology ReviewPDF)

Not strictly a scientific visualization, and not by me. Still included here because it is a compelling illustration of the central point of this essay on brain-to-brain interfaces, which deals with naïve ideas about a cyberpunk future in which we’d be connected by wires instead of words.

━━━━━━

Dingemanse, Blasi, Lupyan, Christiansen & Monaghan 2015 · PDF

(A, B) Words show arbitrariness when there are conventional associations between forms and meanings. Words show iconicity when there are perceptuomotor analogies between forms and meanings, here indicated by shape, size and proximity (inset). (B, C) Words show systematicity when statistical regularities in phonological form, here indicated by color, serve as cues to abstract categories such as word classes. (D) The cues involved in systematicity differ across languages and may be arbitrary. (E) The perceptual analogies involved in iconicity transcend languages and may be universal.

━━━━━━

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.

━━━━━━

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.

━━━━━━

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.

━━━━━━

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.

━━━━━━

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.

━━━━━━

 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.

━━━━━━

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.

━━━━━━

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.

━━━━━━

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.

━━━━━━

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.

━━━━━━

(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.

━━━━━━

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.

━━━━━━

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