LINGUIST List 11.637

Tue Mar 21 2000

Sum: Redundant Word Pairs

Editor for this issue: Lydia Grebenyova <>


  1. Scott Newstrom, Redundant Word Pairs

Message 1: Redundant Word Pairs

Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 14:32:51 -0500 (EST)
From: Scott Newstrom <>
Subject: Redundant Word Pairs

For Query: Linguist 11.573

Thanks for the responses to this query. As a number of people noted, some
of my examples were mistaken in that they weren't actually derived from
the different origins that I was seeking in these pairs.

This points to the larger question of whether these redundancies are a
special case of bi-lingually-rooted pairings or merely a subset of
redundant pairs (present, for example, in the Hebrew bible, Old English
laws, and so forth).

Laura Wright noted that "the doublets come not only from the legal
register but also from the business register, because business writing was
trilingual for about 500 years in Britain, 1066-c.1500. In this register
the languages were not kept separate but were mixed together. The mixing
of A-N, Med L. and ME was rule-governed at a morphological and lexical
level and involved the calquing of ME and romance words in close proximity
in a text - hence we know they weren't just cases of the scribe not
knowing how to translate a given word. So you have a long written
tradition in the UK of giving the both E. and the romance equivalents of
words." She offered the following essays for discussion of the medieval
business register:

'Bills, accounts, inventories: everyday trilingual activities in the
business world of later medieval England' in D. A. Trotter (ed)
Multilingualism in Later Medieval Britain, D. S. Brewer, 2000, 149-156.

'Mixed-Language Business Writing: 500 Years of Codeswitching' in E. H.
Jahr, (ed) Language Change: Advances in Historical Sociolinguistics,
Mouton de Gruyter, 1998, 99-117.

'The Records of Hanseatic Merchants: Ignorant, Sleepy or Degenerate?' in
Multilingua 16/4, 1997, 337-49.

Bob Morris Jones noted that "such pairings are common in contemporary
Welsh with borrowings from English," and that "there is often a stylistic
difference between the two: the English borrowings are avoided in formal
contexts by those whose stylistic repertoire includes both members of the
pair . . . Because of this stylistic influence, it is possible to dub then
'stylistic doublets' to capture at least one aspect of the Welsh data."

Beyond my initial list of terms--hendiadys, binomial, doublet, conjoined
phrases, and repetitive word pairs--a number of people made suggestions
for new terms--"mixed pairings" or "diglossic conjuncts" (Chris Miller);
"A&R conjuncts" (Theo Vennemann); "sister words" (with the reference of
"sister cities") (Kaisa Rigdon); and "tautologous expressions" (James
Giangola). Daniel Donoghue pointed to _The Oxford Companion to English
Literature_, where Tom McArthur discusses his own recent coinage,
"bisocation." This however, doesn't refer to terms specifically linked in
phrases with "and," but rather synonyms in general which have different
origins. The other problem with "bisociation" would seem to be that this
term is already in use in other fields of inquiry.

Thanks again for the responses --

Scott Newstrom
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