The Why and How of Total Reduplication: Current Issues and New Perspectives
  • ISSN 0378-4177
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9978
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The topic of reduplication in Sinitic languages has attracted much attention in the literature, but studies adopting a comparative and areal perspective are still lacking. This paper aims to analyse the correlations between form and function in reduplicating constructions in a sample of twenty Sinitic languages, representing eight branches of the family, comparing them to a set of fourteen non-Sinitic languages of the East- and Southeast Asian area. We will show that the various semantic nuances conveyed by reduplicated verbs could be argued to derive from the core meaning of verbal reduplication as iteration of an event, either over a bounded or an unbounded timespan. On the structural level, a pervasive feature of reduplication lies in its compliance to strict requirements on the morphological makeup of the base. This holds especially in the case of the reduplication of disyllabic and bimorphemic verbs with increasing semantics, a consistent pattern across our sample.


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