The Why and How of Total Reduplication: Current Issues and New Perspectives
  • ISSN 0378-4177
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9978
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Repetition is one of the most basic operations on talk, often discussed for its iconic meanings. Ideophones are marked words that depict sensory imagery, often identified by their reduplicated forms. Yet not all reduplication is iconic, and not all ideophones are reduplicated. This paper discusses the semantics and pragmatics of repeated talk with special reference to ideophones. To understand these phenomena, it is useful to distinguish two modes of representation in language — description and depiction — along with cues like prosodic foregrounding that help steer listener’s interpretations from one to the other. Reduplication can partake in both modes, which is why it is common in ideophones and other areas of grammar. Using evidence from a range of languages, this paper shows how the study of ideophones sheds light on the interpretation of repeated talk, and argues that both description and depiction are fundamental to understanding how language works.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): depiction; iconicity; ideophones; pragmatics; reduplication; repetition; semantics
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