LINGUIST List 18.3005

Mon Oct 15 2007

Sum: Partial /p/ Reduplicants

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Directory         1.    Mark Jones, Partial /p/ Reduplicants

Message 1: Partial /p/ Reduplicants
Date: 15-Oct-2007
From: Mark Jones <>
Subject: Partial /p/ Reduplicants
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Query for this summary posted in LINGUIST Issue: 18.2712 This phenomenon - at its most simplistic - involves the reduplication of alexically occurring base element as a labial-initial reduplicant, e.g.''easy peasy''. The element is often /p/, as in ''easy peasy'', but mayalso be /b/ as in ''rugger bugger'' or /w/ as in ''piggy wiggy''. There issome fixed segmentism here (the initial labial element) and the baseelement is not copied on the basis of some CV template - the reduplicant isas long or as short as the base.

A number of correspondents furnished me with a list of English forms whichcould be considered part of this phenomenon:

/p/ reduplicants

Georgy Porgy, rumpy pumpy, hanky panky, easy peasy, higgledy piggledy, AndyPandy, hocus pocus, namby pamby, roly poly, hodge podge, hokey pokey, lousypousy, Alex Palex, Nancy Pancy, Rana Pana, Clairy Pairy, Henny Penny

/w/ reduplicants (NB only labial-initial triggers counted as true instances)

boogie woogie, piggy wiggy, fishy wishy, fuzzy wuzzy, bow wow, eencyweency, pee wee, piggly wiggly, pussy wussy, Polly wolly, palsy walsy,picky wicky (cf. Pickwick),

/b/ reduplicants

hubble bubble (>hubbub?), silly billy, rugger bugger, argy bargy, honeybunny, hurly burly, itsy bitsy, itty bitty, lousy bousy, hillbilly

Comments and analysis

The /p/ forms may be the oldest and most simplistic in terms of theoperation itself. The /w/ forms all seem to involve a base beginning with alabial element, so that the /w/ may be a dissimilated form of /p/. I termthis ''labial dissimilation'' on the basis of the trigger, not the output.Based on forms like ''teeny weeny'', /w/-initial reduplication may now be aseparate productive process, perhaps even with a separate origin.

The /b/ forms fall into two categories: those in which both the base andthe /b/ reduplicant are existing lexical items, e.g. ''rugger bugger'',''honey bunny'', and those in which the 'reduplicant' is a lexical item,but the 'base' is not, e.g. ''itty bitty'', ''hubble bubble''. I interpretthese patterns as follows. A /p/ reduplicant may be replaced by an existing/b/-initial lexical item (* rugger pugger > rugger bugger; cf, also ''loveydovey'' in Plag 2003). This link to /b/-initial lexical items allows theback-formation of an 'empty base' (actually a right-to-left process ofreduplication), e.g. bubble > hubble bubble, bit(y) > itty bitty. The'empty base' is either onsetless or has an /h/-initial.

Most forms end in ''-y'', so it may be that there is a schema-element here,or that reduplication also involves suffixation to the base, though thereare some speculative forms ending in other sounds e.g. ''big wig''. ContraPlag (2003), not all forms are disyllabic trochees, e.g. ''higgledypiggledy'', ''pee wee''.

Some correspondents pointed out similar labial-initial processes in otherlanguages, e.g. Dutch, German, Norwegian, Turkish, Abkhaz, Hindi. It looksas if these forms probably have an origin in the transition to languagefrom repetitive babbling in child speech.

Reduplication is a subject which has been treated in numerous differentways at different times, and a long list of relevant (and occasionally notso relevant) sources was sent to my by some correspondents. I haven'tincluded these here as they are generally available and easy to find onceyou start digging, and more importantly, none of them dealt in any detailwith this phenomenon (except for a brief mention in Plag, Ingo 2003,Word-formation in English, Cambridge University Press). I'm consideringwriting up a more thorough treatment of partial /p/ reduplicants.

My thanks go to Alex Bellem, Ricardo Bermudez-Otero, Dave Britain, StevenB. Chin, Izzy Cohen, Paul S. Cohen, Daniel Collins, Ioana Costa, LiseDobrin, David Eddington, Susan Fischer, Damien Hall, Daniel Harbour, PepijnHendriks, Daniel Eztra Johnson, Veronika Mattes, Lise Menn, AndrewMcIntyre, Fiona McLaughlin, Jenny Mittelstaedt, Ingo Plag, And Rosta,Christine Meklenborg Salvesen, Kim Schulte, Claire Stewart, Michael Swan,Jess Tauber, Bert Vaux, Joshua Viau, Max Wheeler, Nora Wiedenmann, CarolineWilliams, Laura Wright, Bettina Zeisler, Zoe Ziliak. Linguistic Field(s): Morphology                             Phonology                             Semantics