Tuesday, February 08, 2005


The Wordsmith focused on reduplicatives in the A Word A Day emails in the last week of January. In his introduction to reduplicatives, Anu Garg started out with the word airy-fairy and went on to define reduplicatives as quoted:
It's time for The Reduplicatives. That could be the name of a rock band - the one known for razzle-dazzle and their hoity-toity demeanor.They come in pairs, make a little chit-chat, and then hurry-scurry off to their next go-go gig.

Reduplicatives are words formed when a term is either repeated exactly(as in bonbon), or with a slight variation in the vowel (as in ping-pong),or consonant (as in higgledy-piggledy). This process of compound word formation is known as reduplication.

The reduplicatives sent each day of that week were delightful and funny. The latest AWADmail from Wordsmith had a subscriber email about reduplicatives in Malay. Again, part of that email is quoted:

Source: AWADmail Issue 153 (Feb 6, 2005)

Subject: Reduplicatives

In Malay, a word repeatedly exactly denotes plurality: meja = table,therefore tables = meja-meja. Its quite cute, however, complications can arise - in some instances, where a word repeated exactly is a word in its own right. e.g. butterfly (rama rama) and needs to be pluralise. e.g.butterflies = rama rama rama rama. As you can imagine, it does sound funny to foreign ears when all you hear is a repetition of the word 4x!

The Malay example reminded me of reduplicatives in Tamil. More on that some other day.

List of reduplicatives that I found elsewhere.


Phoenix said...

"Reduplicatives"---even if we say 2 or 3 times
continously, it would make us to mince the letters.
Nice to use in informal context.I belive there are
plenty of slangs in tamil(rhythmic pair of words)
which are so nice and funny to use..

I am thinking of a reduplicative which has "echo":-)( word "echo" is little rhythmic)

vimal said...

Even in Tamil, a table is called "mejai" and in Malay it's called "Meja".