The morphosyntax of non-iconic reduplications

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In this paper, we have studied non-iconic reduplication in Eastern Gbe languages (viz., Fongbe and Gungbe) and Suriname creoles (viz., Sranan and Saramaccan). We have shown that in the Surinam Creoles, as well as in the Gbe languages, such non-iconic reduplication is conditioned by a unique syntactic structure which derives both verbal nouns (or gerunds) and (verbal) adjectives. Put another way, we analyze reduplication as a morphological process (i.e. affixation) conditioned by structural properties. We further show that the resulting reduplicated items correlate with a change in meaning that often varies from process/event to state/result, and can therefore not be accounted for in terms of iconicity. With regard to the issue of the emergence of reduplication in creoles, we show that the development of these non-iconic reduplications in the Surinam creoles derive partially from substrate influence from Eastern Gbe, while showing some properties of gerunds and past participles in English. Under this view therefore, reduplication, far from being a fast and cheap morphological operation available to a creole emerging from a pidgin state, represents a constrained morphosyntactic process.


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