This is some notes on the Chapter 2 : Areal Typology of Expressives, Echo-formations and Word reduplication. from the book “Semantic Universals in Indian Languages” by Anvita Abbi. All previous articles in this series can be seen here.
* “Reduplication” is a phenomenon in which all or part of a word repeats to form another word (e.g., ఇంటింటి, घर घर etc.,). This reduplication is of two types: Lexical Reduplication and Morphological Reduplication.
Lexical Redup. is when whole words repeat themselves, as in the above example. Morphological Reduplication is when parts of words repeat and the individual parts don’t have an independent meaning (e.g., चाचा). This chapter primarily discusses different kinds of reduplication, broadly classified in to “expressives”, “echo words”, “semantic reduplication”
* Expressives: Under the umbrella of reduplication, there are certain kind of reduplicated words which are formed by repeating syllables that constitute a word instead of words itself. Now, this entire reduplicated word functions as a word. These are called “Expressives” in linguistics. (Atleast this is how I understood it).
A definition of “expressives” from the Encyclopaedia Britannica is as follows:
“Expressive language and wordplay are embodied in a special word class called “expressives.” This is a basic class of words distinct from verbs, adjectives, and adverbs in that they cannot be subjected to logical negation. They describe noises, colours, light patterns, shapes, movements, sensations, emotions, and aesthetic feelings.”
(In the article on Austro-Asiatic languages)
* Echo-words: These are words like – చలి-గిలి, టీవీ-గీవీ, इंग्लिश-विंग्लिश etc.,
* Word-reduplication : These are the ఇంటింటి, घर घर etc., kind of words.
Now in to detail:
* “the most significant aspect of Indian expressives is that they indicate five senses of perception of Indian speakers. Secondly, the expressives behave and function like any regular word and thus form a part of the lexicons of Indian languages.”
The author gave numerous examples of expressives that cover five senses .. and in multiple Indian languages. I would probably write one example each, in Telugu if possible or give author’s Hindi example if a Telugu one does not occur to me.
1. Acoustic noises: కావ్ కావ్ మని అరవడం, కిలకిలమని నవ్వడం, ఘల్లు ఘల్లుమని గజ్జెల చప్పుడు, टप टप etc.,
2. Sense of sight: జిగేల్ జిగేల్మని మెరవడం, चम चम.
3. Sense of touch: perhaps, వేడివేడిగా qualifies here (author’s examples were from Nepali and Methei).
4. Sense of smell: ఘుమఘుమ వాసనలు
5. Sense of taste: चिरपिरा, चटपटा (I thought of కరకరా… and realized it comes under sound and not taste)
“Another feature which makes the South Asian languages distinct from other languages is the use of expressives as manner adverbs. This use gives Indian speaker the linguistic facility in bringing out very minute and subtle distinctions in a performance of an action which may go unnoticed or unexpressed in non-Indian culture. .. It should be noted that learning these languages implies learning of these expressives as a sentence without a definite manner adverb is considered incomplete. The knowledge of expressives thus constitute an integral part of language competence.”
And there were these amazing array of walking style examples from Khasi language..where different sounds indicate different walking styles. Few examples:
don don – toddle like a child
mareh thrait thrait – to run without losing hope or vigor
kniah kniah – walking mincingly
An equivalent example in Telugu could be the laughs – కిల కిలా, పక పకా etc.,
Another interesting tidbit: “Nepali excels in expressing various types of confusion and disorderliness by expressives. At least 15 different expressives to represent disorderliness have been noticed by the author”
It was in this context that I read “పుటుక్కు జరజర…” puzzle in new light.
Another research tidbit: Emeneau (1969) showed that there were at least 39 sound-meaning correspondences of Onomatopoetic across Dravidian and Indo-Aryan languages. (Here is a nice interview with him in Telugu)
Onomatopoeia – indicates a sound-meaning correspondence. Like – కావ్ కావ్, కర కరా, భౌ భౌ, काव काव etc., In general linguists say that these formations are not dependent on the rules of the language. But in his book, also based on Emeneau’s work, the author argues that it can also be an areal feature (feature of a linguistic area).
Here is a summary of this part on expressives:
“Indian expressives manifest feelings, sensations, perceptions pertaining to five senses, manner of an action and disorderliness. All these relate to the ability of PERCEPTION of the speaker in a cultural environment. The ‘world view’ and its manifestation in expressive morphology is a typical feature of Indian linguistic area’.
(to be continued)