The Why and How of Total Reduplication: Current Issues and New Perspectives
  • ISSN 0378-4177
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9978
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This paper focuses on the semantics of reduplicated forms. Apart from expressing plurality, intensity, distributivity, and other well-known iconic meanings, reduplication often derives forms that do not have quantitative differences from the original words. I propose that the relation between the original and reduplicated forms can be described not only through the notion of doubling, but also through inexact similarity. I further introduce a list of meanings that are based on the idea of similarity and are found in reduplicated forms in many languages. In particular, it concerns such functions of reduplication as a change of lexical class, expressing similarity and pejorativity. Attenuative and emphatic meanings of reduplication, as well as marking some oppositions in verbal systems, can be explained through the combination of the similarity and quantitative meanings. The main conclusion of the study is that the correlation between the form and the meaning of reduplicated forms is much stronger than is usually considered, and the notion of iconicity relating to reduplication should be significantly extended.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): iconicity; reduplication; semantics; typology
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