Excerpts and Comments on “Semantic Universals…”-5

(Continued from yesterday’s post, on the same chapter. 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.)

Other kinds of Lexical Reduplication:

After Echo words, it is a reduplication of a “discontinuous” type where a syllable is inserted between two reduplicated words (e.g., कम से कम, कभी न कभी, कही न कही – drop a comment if you have a good Telugu example. I can’t think of it at the moment).

Then, there is Semantic Reduplication, where related words join together to form compounds. These can be synonyms (like in పండుగా పబ్బం, धनदौलत – alright may be the Telugu example is not a compound. It perhaps is written as two seperate words!) or antonyms (like in మంచీచెడూ, उठना बैठना etc.,) or related words (అన్నపానాలు? मोल-तोल etc) – but, as per the author, “such compounts are part of language universals and do not interest us specifically for the investigation under consideration”.

Then comes “Complete Word Reduplication” (CWR) which are the constructions like – “వింటూ వింటూ నిద్రపోయాను”, बैठे बैठे सोगया etc.,)..and these are very productive ways of forming words. For a change, I would like to type in the author’s examples from Kharia language (the language spoken by the Kharia tribe near Jharkhand) instead of Hindi or Telugu…because I found them interesting.

goej’ (to die-verb) – goej’ goej’ (dead like-adjective)
no (to eat-v) – no no (right hand, used for eating-Noun)
jung (to ask-v) – jung jung dan (engagement-N)
bor (to ask-V) – bor bor lebu (beggar-N)

“reduplicated verbal adverbs of our “baithe baithe” types are universally used by all South Asian languages to indicate aspects like simultaneity, continuity, iteration, sequentiality and non precipitiveness. This is one feature which marks the South Asian languages distinct from neighbouring languages. It gives the languages of the subcontinent a group identity.”

And then, there is interesting comment on how geo-political plurals block this sort of areal diffusion (of certain linguistic structures occuring in all languages of that area irrespective of their genesis) – by taking an example of Taizang, a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in Burma border.

There is a nice table summarizing word-reduplication in Indian languages, for various parts of speech. I would put Telugu examples here:
Noun – ఇంటింటి
Pronoun- వాణ్ణి వాణ్ణి (won’t there be a comma?)
Adverb – చూసి చూసి
Adjectives – వేడివేడిగా
Verbs – –
Quantifiers – ఒకటొకటి

So, end of story for this chapter. The next chapter is on “Explicator Compound Verbs” (like – కూర్చుండిపోయాను, मारडाला etc., where there are two verbs, where the main meaning is in the first verb but the second verb is used bereft of its meaning, to convey tense, mood and aspect).

(to be continued)

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. >>reduplication of a “discontinuous” type
    కొంతలో కొంత, ఒకరికి ఒకరు, ఇక్కడికి ఇక్కడ, ప్రశ్నపై ప్రశ్న,
    కామెంట్లపై కామెంట్లు రాస్తున్నాను.🙂

    • Thanks Kameswara Rao garu!🙂

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