Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Expressives and the multimodal depiction of social types in Mundari

  • Nishaant Choksi (a1)

Abstract

Present in many of the world's languages, expressives (also called ideophones or mimetics) are commonly discussed as iconic ‘depictions’ of speaker's sensual experiences. Yet anthropologists and linguists working with these constructions have noticed that they also index ‘social types’ that perdure across interactional events. This article analyzes the semiotic relation between depiction and social stereotypes embedded in expressive use by examining video data from interviews with speakers of Mundari, an expressive-rich Austro-Asiatic language spoken in eastern India. Presenting interview data taken from both lab-based elicitations as well as ethnographic interviews in Mundari-speaking villages, the article claims that speakers deploy multimodal resources such as gesture and gaze in concert with expressives in order to re-intepret social indexes as felt, embodied experiences (rheme) while also juxtaposing these experiences with elements in the immediately perceptible material world (dicent). The article also addresses issues of ethics, agency, and materiality entailed by multimodal expressive depiction. (Ideophones, multimodality, materiality, embodiment, semiotics)*

Copyright

Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Nishaant Choksi Indian Institute of Technology-Gandhinagar Palaj, Gandhinagar, Gujarat382355, Indianishaant.choksi@iitgn.ac.in

Footnotes

Hide All
*

A special thanks to Madhu Purti, who taught me Mundari, and who, along with her family, were the primary consultants for the data presented in this article, and Nathan Badenoch, who helped facilitate the research and provided valuable comments on initial drafts of this article. I am also grateful to Toshiki Osada; participants in the 2017 American Anthropological Association conference panel (Janis Nuckolls, Anthony Webster, and Natalia Bermudez) where this work was first presented; the two anonymous reviewers; and journal editors Jenny Cheshire and Judith Irvine. Funding for the research in this article was provided by a grant-in-aid from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science Postdoctoral Fellowship for Foreign Researchers (P16744).

Footnotes

References

Hide All
Abbi, Anvita (1985). Reduplicative structures: A phenomenon of the South Asian linguistic area. Oceanic Linguistics Special Publications 20:159–71.
Abbi, Anvita (2018). Echo formations and expressives in South Asian languages: A probe into significant areal phenomena. In Urdze, Aina (ed.), Non-prototypical reduplication, 134. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
Ahearn, Laura M. (2001). Language and agency. Annual Review of Anthropology 30(1):109–37.
Akita, Kimi, & Pardeshi, Prashant (eds.) (2019). Ideophones, mimetics, and expressives. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Agha, Asif (2005). Voice, footing, enregisterment. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 15(1):3859.
Agha, Asif (2007). Language and social relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Agha, Asif (2011). Commodity registers. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 21(1):2253.
Ball, Christopher (2014). On dicentization. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 24(2):151–73.
Badenoch, Nathan; Choksi, Nishaant; & Osada, Toshiki (2020). Performance in elicitation: Methodological considerations in the study of Mundari expressives. In Mohan, Shailendra (ed.), Advances in Munda linguistics. Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, to appear.
Badenoch, Nathan; Purti, Madhu; & Choksi, Nishaant (2019). Expressives as moral propositions in Mundari. Indian Linguistics, to appear.
Bauman, Richard, & Briggs, Charles L. (1990). Poetics and performance as critical perspectives on language and social life. Annual Review of Anthropology 19:5988.
Bolinger, Dwight L. (1940). Word affinities. American Speech 15(1):6273.
Cavanaugh, Jillian R., & Shankar, Shalini (2017). Toward a theory of language materiality: An introduction. In Cavanaugh, Jillian R. & Shankar, Shalini (eds.), Language and materiality: Ethnographic and theoretical explorations, 128. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Childs, G. Tucker (1996). Where have all the ideophones gone? The death of a word category in Zulu. Toronto Working Papers in Linguistics 15:81102.
Diffloth, Gerard (1972). Notes on expressive meaning. Chicago Linguistic Society 8(44):440–47.
Diffloth, Gerard (1979). Expressive phonology and prosaic phonology in Mon-Khmer. In Thongkun, T., Panupon, V., Kullivanajaya, P., & Kalaya, M. R. (eds.), Studies in Tai and Mon-Khmer phonetics and phonology: Essays in honor of Eugenie J. A. Henderson, 4959. Bangkok: Chulalongkorn University Press.
Dingemanse, Mark (2012). Advances in the cross-linguistic study of ideophones. Language and Linguistics Compass 6(10):654–72.
Dingemanse, Mark (2013). Ideophones and gesture in everyday speech. Gesture 13(2):143–65.
Dingemanse, Mark (2018). Redrawing the margins of language: Lessons from research on ideophones. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics 3(1):130.
Duranti, Alessandro (1994). From grammar to politics: Linguistic anthropology in a Western Samoan village. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Emeneau, Murray B., & Hart, Kausalya (1993). Tamil expressives with initial voiced stops. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 56(1):7586.
Evans, Nicholas, & Osada, Toshiki (2005). Mundari: The myth of a language without word classes. Linguistic Typology 9(3):351–90.
Evans, Nicholas, & Osada, Toshiki (2011). Mundari reciprocals. In Evans, Nicholas, Gaby, Alice, Levinson, Stephen, & Majid, Asifa (eds.), Reciprocals and semantic typology, 115–28. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Feld, Steven (1982/2012). Sound and sentiment: Birds, weeping, poetics, and song in Kaluli expression. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Friedrich, Paul (1979). Language, context and the imagination. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Gal, Susan (2016). Sociolinguistic differentiation. In Coupland, Nikolas (ed.), Sociolinguistics: Theoretical debates, 113–38. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Haiman, John (2018). Ideophones and the evolution of language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Harkness, Nicholas (2011). Culture and interdiscursivity in Korean fricative voice gestures. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 21(1):99123.
Hinton, Leanne; Nichols, Johanna; & Ohala, John J. (eds.) (2006). Sound symbolism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hiraga, Masako K.; Herlofsky, William J.; Shinohara, Kazuko; & Akita, Kimi (eds.) (2015). Iconicity: East meets west. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Hymes, Dell (1979). How to talk like a bear in Takelma. International Journal of American Linguistics 45(2):101106.
Inoue, Miyako (2007). Things that speak: Peirce, Benjamin, and the kinesthetics of commodity advertisement in Japanese women's magazines, 1900 to the 1930s. Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique 15(3):511–52.
Irvine, Judith T. (2017). Materiality and language or material language? Dualisms and embodiments. In Cavanaugh & Shankar, 277–94.
Jakobson, Roman (1980). Metalanguage as a linguistic problem. In The framework of language, 8192. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Keane, Webb (2003). Semiotics and the social analysis of material things. Language & Communication 23(3–4):409–25.
Kohn, Eduardo (2013). How forests think: Toward an anthropology beyond the human. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Lahti, Katherine; Barrett, Rusty; & Webster, Anthony (2014). Introduction: Ideophones: Between grammar and poetry. Pragmatics and Society 5(3):335–40.
Lambek, Michael (2010). Toward an ethics of the act. In Lambek, Michael (ed.), Ordinary ethics: Anthropology, language, and action, 3963. New York: Fordham University Press.
Lempert, Michael (2013). No ordinary ethics. Anthropological Theory 13(4):370–93.
Mihas, Elena (2013). Composite ideophone-gesture utterances in the Ashéninka Perené ‘community of practice’, an Amazonian Arawak society from Central-Eastern Peru. Gesture 13(1):2862.
Mohan, Shailendra (2006). Echo-word formation in Hindi. Indian Linguistics 67:119–26.
Nuckolls, Janis B. (1996). Sounds like life: Sound-symbolic grammar, performance, and cognition in Pastaza Quechua. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Nuckolls, Janis B. (2010). Lessons from a Quechua strongwoman: Ideophony, dialogue, and perspective. Tuscon: University of Arizona Press.
Nuckolls, Janis B. (2012). Ideophones in bodily experiences in Pastaza Quichua (Ecuador). In Proceedings of STILLA, 2011. South Bend, IN: Kellogg Institute for International Studies.
Occhi, Debra J. (2010). Consuming Kyara ‘characters’:Anthropomorphization and marketing in contemporary Japan. Comparative Culture 15:7786.
Osada, Toshiki (1992). A reference grammar of Mundari. Tokyo: ILCAA.
Osada, Toshiki (1999). Experiential constructions in Mundari. GENGO KENKYU (Journal of the Linguistic Society of Japan) 1999(115):5176.
Osada, Toshiki (2010). Mundari expressives. In Nagaraja, K. S. (ed.), Austro-Asiatic linguistics, 271–82. Mysore: Central Institute of Indian Languages.
Osada, Toshiki; Purti, Madhu; Badenoch, Nathan; Onishi, Masayuki; & Datta, Durga Pada (2019). A dictionary of Mundari expressives. In Badenoch, Nathan & Osada, Toshiki (eds.), A dictionary of Mundari expressives, 51276. Tokyo: ILCAA.
Osada, Toshiki; Purti, Madhu; Badenoch, Nathan; & Choksi, Nishaant (2015). A course in Mundari. Tokyo: Kotoba Books/JSPS.
Phillips, Jacob B., & David Harrison, K. (2017). Munda mimetic reduplication. Canadian Journal of Linguistics/Revue Canadienne de Linguistique 62(2):221–42.
Sapir, Edward (1968). Abnormal types of speech in Nootka. In Mandelbaum, David (ed.), Selected writings of Edward Sapir, 179–96. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Shankar, Shalini, & Cavanaugh, Jillian R. (2012). Language and materiality in global capitalism. Annual Review of Anthropology 41(1):355–69.
Sicoli, Mark A. (2014). Ideophones, rhemes, interpretants. Pragmatics and Society 5(3):445–54.
Sidwell, Paul (2013). Expressives in Austro-Asiatic. In Williams, Jeffrey P. (ed.), The aesthetics of grammar: Sound and meaning in the languages of Mainland Southeast Asia, 1735. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Silverstein, Michael (1981). The limits of awareness. In Sociolinguistic Working Paper 84, 116. Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.
Silverstein, Michael (2003). Translation, transduction, transformation: Skating ‘glossando’ on thin semiotic ice. In Rubel, Paula G. & Rosman, Abraham (eds.), Translating cultures: Perspectives on translation and anthropology, 75107. Oxford: Berg.
Silverstein, Michael (2006). Relative motivation in denotational and indexical sound symbolism of Wasco-Wishram Chinookan. In Hinton, Leanne, Nichols, Johanna, & Ohala, John J. (eds.), Sound symbolism, 4060. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Streeck, Jürgen (2008). Depicting by gesture. Gesture 8(3):285301.
Voeltz, F. K. Erhard, & Kilian-Hatz, Christa (eds.) (2001). Ideophones. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Williams, Jeffrey P. (ed.) (2019). Expressive morphology in the languages of South Asia. London: Routledge.
Webster, Anthony (2015). Intimate grammars: An ethnography of Navajo poetry. Tuscon: University of Arizona Press.
Webster, Anthony (2017). So it's got three meanings dil dil: Seductive ideophony and the sounds of Navajo poetry. Canadian Journal of Linguistics/Revue Canadienne de Linguistique 62(2):173–95.

Expressives and the multimodal depiction of social types in Mundari

  • Nishaant Choksi (a1)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed