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The Word-Formation Process of Reduplication in languages

 The Word-Formation Process of Reduplication in languages

The process of word-formation has a noteworthy part to show in linguistics and so does the process of reduplication. Reduplication stands out as one of the foremost phenomena in the process of word-formation. It stands as one of the chief phenomena in the process of word formation and an imperative phenomenon in language studies. It enhances the richness and range of languages, and has been of great attention to linguists, especially in phonology and morphology. Thus, to preserve the diversity of multilingualism and promote the native languages of several regions, researches have occupied a significant space on part of scholars and linguists.

The process of reduplication has been ignored a lot though it has always attracted the attention of linguists as many speakers of Indo-European languages are not familiar with the phenomenon. It is regarded as one of the significant processes in word formation in which some part of a base which refers to a segment or a syllable or a morpheme is repeated either to the left, or to the right or occasionally within the middle of the word. The word has been obtained from the two terms “re” meaning “again” and “duplicare” meaning fold or double. Reduplication may repeat all or a part of a lexical item which carries a semantic modification with itself.

Word Reduplication refers to the total or partial reduplication which leads to the repetition of the base or stem of the word. Here, words or the lexical items from various word classes are reduplicated to bring changes in the semantic interpretations. There are two kinds of word reduplication- complete and partial.

Complete word reduplication comprises of all those structures which are reduplicated consisting two identical iterated words. They are of two kinds: class maintaining type and class changing type. Those kind of complete word reduplications that stays in their own grammatical class of non-iterated base are said to be class maintaining type. Those kinds of reduplications where the structure that is reduplicated enters to a grammatical class which is different from the none reduplicated base in course of formation is called class changing type. It is referred as full reduplication too.

Partial Word Reduplication is a kind of word reduplication that is made up of duplication of a part of any word. The syllable meant to be duplicated may be a vowel or a vowel consonant or a consonant vowel. As a single structural category, it might repeat any constituent of a word. Consider the example, ‘chai-vai’ in Hindi which means ‘tea and thing.’

Complete reduplication involves doubling of a whole word simply to produce plurals or to mark layers of intensity to a particular thought. It is a lexical item in which takes place no phonological alterations. For example- yama-yama in Japanese meaning ‘mountains.’ Partial reduplication consists of words, most probably a syllable which is put to repetition and not the whole word. Such set of reduplicated structures includes some changes of the part of structure copied, in a phonological shape. For example- kami-gami means ‘Gods’ in Japanese.

In sum, reduplication stands as an important phenomenon in language studies. A process found in all languages across the world thereby lending an expressive and aesthetic effect within the lexical items of the languages.


Dr Devina Krishna

Assistant Professor

Department of English

Patna Women’s College (Autonomous)