[Lingtyp] Ideophonic intonation

Eva Schultze-Berndt Eva.Schultze-Berndt at manchester.ac.uk
Mon Oct 23 21:31:30 UTC 2017

Hi Laura,

I am very interested in prosodic patterns serving to simultaneously highlight and integrate ideophones with "descriptive" context, so I would love to see a summary of responses and/or more literature hints.

As a native speaker of German I have observed a particular contour associated with (usually monosyllabic) ideophones denoting a sudden movement or impact (either of these could be metaphorical, like _zack_ in the example below).

These ideophones behave syntactically like clause-initial adverbs in that they trigger V2, but in addition are accompanied by an extreme high pitch, usually followed by a pause, and the remainder of the clause has a lower and flat intonation (this is speaking impressionistically, not having done prosodic analysis). The example below is linked to an audio file so it can give you an idea. So far I have not found any literature commenting on this.

Best wishes


Conversation among flat mates:

Wenn man so spontan         ‘nen      Einfall hat

When one so spontaneously INDEF  idea have:PRS:3SG

(0.42)    zack (.)         legt            ma los

  IDEOPH:swift start:PRS:3SG   one off

‘When one has a spontaneous idea,

Zack, one starts off (implementing it)’

(Datenbank für gesprochenes Deutsch



Eva Schultze-Berndt
Professor of Linguistics
Linguistics and English Language
School of Arts, Languages and Cultures
The University of Manchester
Oxford Road
M13 9PL
Manchester, UK
E-mail: eva.schultze-berndt at manchester.ac.uk
Office NG11, Samuel Alexander Building
From: Lingtyp [lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org] on behalf of Laura McPherson [laura.emcpherson at gmail.com]
Sent: 22 October 2017 19:14
To: lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
Subject: [Lingtyp] Ideophonic intonation

Dear typology colleagues,

I am thinking about writing about ideophones in Seenku (Samogo, Northwestern Mande), and in particular about an ideophonic intonation pattern that I have seen with many different ideophones that I am calling "bouncing ball intonation". Briefly, it is characterized by repetition of the ideophonic stem/morpheme, slowly at first, then with increasing speed, like a bouncing ball coming to a stop.

Ideophones are of course often characterized by repetition (reduplication, retriplication) and by unusual prosody, but I am interested in published sources or other cases you know of where there is a larger fixed prosodic or intonational template that different ideophones can be slotted into and whether any meaning is associated with it.

Many thanks,

Laura McPherson
Assistant Professor of Linguistics
Dartmouth College

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