[Lingtyp] Call for abstracts: SLE2019 workshop proposal "Ideophones and interjections"

Yvonne Treis yvoennche at gmail.com
Mon Sep 24 11:33:11 EDT 2018

Call for abstracts (Apologies for cross-posting)


Workshop proposal to be submitted to the 52nd Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea (SLE), 21st – 24th August 2019, Leipzig University, Germany



Convenors: Aimée Lahaussois (CNRS-HTL) and Yvonne Treis (CNRS-LLACAN)


Ideophones and interjections 


Our workshop focusses on two word classes, ideophones and interjections, that have been faced, throughout their history, with definitional problems of a rather different nature than other word classes, in part because they are situated at the boundary of arbitrary vs. “motivated” language. In this workshop we would like to bring together scholars who study the semantics, morphology, syntax and pragmatics of ideophones and interjections from a typological, diachronic, areal and/or multimodal perspective.

Potential participants are invited to contact the workshop organizers with an expression of interest:

aimee.lahaussois at cnrs.fr <mailto:aimee.lahaussois at linguist.univ-paris-diderot.fr>  and  <mailto:yvonne.treis at cnrs.fr> yvonne.treis at cnrs.fr

The final date for the submission of an abstract for a 20-minute presentation (max. 300 words, exclusive of references) is 9 November 2018. Submission at this stage is non-anonymous.


Workshop description


Interjections, invented by Latin scholars to fill a gap in the 8-part word classification after the dismissal of articles (which existed in Greek but not in Latin), are on the whole defined, throughout history, in negative terms on account of their phonological marginality, their non-participation in morphological processes and their syntactic autonomy. Ideophones are also difficult to define notionally, on account of the great variety of ideophonic lexemes in the world’s languages, and many definitions, as with interjections, highlight the non-standard phonology found with this word class. We have decided to consider these two word classes in the same workshop with the hope that setting them up in opposition to each other will make us more efficient in searching for consistent (and contrasting) definitions and in discussing issues of data collection, methodology and analysis that are common to both.

Considering that in many languages, ideophones and interjections do not participate in morphological processes, it is reasonable to question whether they should, or even can be, topics in grammatical descriptions, and if so, how they can be described (and not only listed). They express emotions or reactions (interjections) and sensory imagery (ideophones), in other words subjective notions with great cultural variability. The difficulty in translating them and accurately capturing their meaning makes describing them difficult (for non-native linguists), marginalizing them even more compared to other word classes.

An important question to be discussed in our workshop is that of the type of data which is needed to study these word classes: interjections and ideophones are more frequent in corpora of spontaneous speech, most often interactive, in other words types of linguistic production that are significantly different from those commonly used for research into nominal or verbal morphology. Additionally, they will often only be interpretable to the fieldworker after a relatively long period in the field, adding to the complexity of their description. 

Ideophones have been given cross-linguistic consideration, through work on sound symbolism (Hinton et al 1994), and in typology and descriptive work (see especially Voeltz & Kilian-Hatz 2001, Dingemanse 2011 and Reiter 2011). This work on ideophones has resulted in the following implicational hierarchy: sound < movement < visual patterns < other sensory perceptions < inner feelings and cognitive states (languages with ideophones covering a semantic field to the right will also have ideophones in semantic domains to the left of that point). In contrast, work on interjections has tended to be situated within the field of pragmatics (Ameka 1992, Cram 2008, Poggi 2009) rather than being carried out from the perspective of typology.

For our workshop proposal we invite abstracts addressing one or more of the following questions from the perspective of language-specific and cross-linguistic analysis: 

-        Typology: How can one proceed from language-specific to cross-linguistic definitions of “interjection” and “ideophone”? What formal, semantic and pragmatic criteria can be used to compare interjections and ideophones across languages?

-        Categorization: Where are the boundaries between interjections and ideophones, interjections and fixed expressions, interjections and “imperativa tanta” etc.? 

-        Morphology: In which languages do we find productive processes for the formation of ideophones on the basis of elements from other word classes? Of which derivational processes can interjections and ideophones themselves be the input? 

-        Semantics: What are the semantic domains expressed by interjections and ideophones? When interjections and ideophones occur in grammars, it is often in the form of lists, divided into semantic sub-classes: are other configurations for their description possible?

-        Diachrony: What are the lexical or syntagmatic origins of interjections across languages? What are the diachronic origins of ideophones (onomatopoeia, loans etc.)?

-        Areality: How do interjections and ideophones spread across language boundaries or within a linguistic area? Are there phono-symbolic patterns that are characteristic of specific linguistic areas? In which linguistic areas do we find similarly elaborated systems of interjections (e.g. interjections for different types of work, for different domestic animals)?

-        Co-verbal gestures: Which gestures are associated with ideophones and interjections?

-        Methodology / tools for data collection and analysis: What types of linguistic data most frequently yield interjections and ideophones? Are there differences in frequency between certain linguistic genres (narratives, poetry, prayers, eulogies…) and everyday language? Which (non-)verbal stimuli can be used to trigger the use of interjections and ideophones and to help us capture their meaning?

-        Historiography: How have interjections and ideophones typically been defined and described in research traditions of certain areas, language branches, families?

Important Dates

-        Submission of abstracts to workshop convenors: 9 November 2018

-        Notification of inclusion of abstract in the workshop proposal: 20 November 2018

-        Notification of acceptance/rejection of the workshop proposal by the SLE organizers: 15 December 2018

-        If our workshop proposal is accepted, submission of full abstracts to SLE by the participants: 15 January 2018


Selected References

Ameka, F.K. (ed.) 1992. Journal of Pragmatics 18 [Special issue on Interjections].

Buridant, C. (ed.) 2006. L’interjection : jeux et enjeux. [Numéro spécial de Langages 161]

Cram, D. (ed.) 2008. The Henry Sweet Society Bulletin 50 [Special issue on Interjections].

Cuenca, M.J. 2000. Defining the indefinable? Interjections. Syntaxis 3: 29-44.

Dhoorre, C.S. & Tosco, M. 1998. 111 Somali Ideophones. Journal of African Cultural Studies 11, 2: 125-156.

Dingemanse, M. 2009. Ideophones in unexpected places. In. Austin, P.K. et al (eds.). Proceedings of the 2nd Conference on Language Documentation and Linguistic Theory, pp. 83-97. London: SOAS.

___2011. The meaning and use of ideophones in Siwu. Nijmegen: Radboud University. (Doctoral dissertation)

___2012. Advances in the cross-linguistic study of ideophones. Language and Linguistics Compass 6, 10: 654-72.

Halté, Pierre 2018. Les émoticônes et les interjections dans le tchat. Limoges : Lambert-Lucas.

Hinton, L., J. Nichols & J.J. Ohala (eds.) 1994. Sound Symbolism. Cambridge: CUP.

Jendraschek, G. 2001. Semantic and structural properties of Turkish ideophones. In: Johansen, L. (ed.). Turkic Languages, pp. 88-103. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Kellersmann, J. 2018. Hindi-Ideophone. Berlin: Paul Schmitt.

Kockelman, P. 2003. The meanings of interjections in Q’eqchi’ Maya: From emotive reactions to social and discursive actions. Current Anthropology 44, 4: 467-490.

Lahaussois, A. 2016. Where have all the interjections gone? A look into the place of interjections in contemporary grammars of endangered languages. In: Assunção, C., F. Gonçalo & R. Kemmler (eds.). Tradition and Innovation in the History of Linguistics: Contributions from the 13th International Conference on the History of the Language Sciences (ICHoLS XIII), Vila Real, 25-29 August 2014. Münster: Nodus.

Lockyer, D. 2018. Affixed interjections in English and Polish: A corpus-based study of emotional talk in digital communication and literary dialogue. Vancouver: The University of British Columbia. (Doctoral dissertation)

Meinard, M.E.M. 2015. Distinguishing onomatopoeias from interjections. Journal of Pragmatics 76: 150-168.

Nobile, L. & E.L. Vallauri 2016. Onomatopea e fonosimbolismo. Rome: Carocci.

Norrick, N.R. 2009. Interjections as pragmatic markers. Journal of Pragmatics 41, 5: 866-891.

Nuckolls, J.B. 1999. The case for sound symbolism. Annual Review of Anthropology 28: 225-52.

Poggi, I. 2009. The language of interjections. In: Esposito, A., Hussain, A., Marinaro, M. & Martone, R. (eds.) Multimodal signals: Cognitive and Algorithmic Issues (Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence 5398), pp. 170-186, Berlin/Heidelberg: Springer.

Reiter, S. 2011. Ideophones in Awetí. Kiel: Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel. (Doctoral dissertation)

Simeone-Senelle, M.-C. 2017. Expression de l’émotion en sudarabique moderne. Interjection et autres formes figée. In : Tersis, N. & P. Boyeldieu (eds.). Le langage de l’émotion : variations linguistiques et culturelles, pp. 141-16. Louvain/Paris : Peeters.

Smith, B. 2012. Language and the frontiers of the human: Aymara animal‐oriented interjections and the mediation of mind. American Ethnologist 39, 2: 313-324.

Swiatkowska, M. 2006. L’interjection : entre deixis et anaphore. Langages 161: 47-56.

Tosco, M. 2006. The ideophones in Gawwada. In: Uhlig, S. (ed.). Proceedings of the XVth International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, Hamburg, July 20-25, 2003, pp. 885-892. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Urdze, A.M. 2009. Ideophone in Europa: Die Grammatik der lettischen Geräuschverben mit einem areallinguistischen Ausblick. Bremen: Universität Bremen. (Doctoral dissertation)

van Gijn, R. 2010. Middle voice and ideophones, a diachronic connection: The case of Yurakaré. Studies in Language 34, 2: 273-297.

Voeltz, F.K.E. & C. Kilian-Hatz (eds.) 2001. Ideophones. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins.



Yvonne Treis
Chargée de Recherche 
LLACAN - UMR 8135 du CNRS 
Centre Georges Haudricourt, Bât. C 
7, rue Guy Môquet B.P. 8 
94801 Villejuif Cedex
Tél.: +331.


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