Language and Cognition Department, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
 by Olivier le Guen

Folk Definitions of Ideophones

Ideophones are marked words that depict sensory imagery, for example English hippety-hoppety ‘in a limping and hobbling manner’ or Siwu mukumuku ‘mouth movements of a toothless person eating’. They typically have special sound patterns and distinct grammatical properties. Ideophones are found in many languages of the world, suggesting a common fascination with detailed sensory depiction, but reliable data on their meaning and use is still very scarce. This task involves video-recording spontaneous, informal explanations (“folk definitions”) of individual ideophones by native speakers, in their own language. The approach facilitates collection of rich primary data in a planned context while ensuring a large amount of spontaneity and freedom.


This Field Manual entry can be downloaded from the MPG Publication Repository:

How to cite this resource?

Dingemanse, M. (2010). Folk definitions of ideophones. In E. Norcliffe, & N. J. Enfield (Eds.), Field manual volume 13 (pp. 24-29). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.529151.