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Today is a big show where we tackle the topic of reduplication, something we think more conlangers should employ.  Then we talk about a wonderfully crazy click langauge called Sandawe — and it’s natural!

Top of Show Greeting: Chudihr

Links and Resources

Featured NATLANG:  Sandawe (Wikipedia)


Email from Liam:

Hi there,
I recently just discovered the podcast, and I’m in love! I’ve been toying with creating languages for my own RPG and fiction writing, but never knew how deeply and completely the subject went.
Anyway, I started listening, and one thing I quickly discovered, is that my grasp on grammar terms is significantly lacking. I know the basics every 7th-grader should know (I’m, er, a bit older than that…) but so much of what I hear you discuss go way beyond what I ever encountered, even, if I recall, my undergrad English classes!

So, my question: is there or are there any books that you would recommend for someone who is needing both a refreshing on general English grammar and, especially, advanced grammar? Especially something that would be helpful for the self-taught, and would help as a basis for then exploring constructed languages?

I appreciate any suggestions! 🙂
Thanks, and thanks for the fascinating podcasts! (The animus-based sentence structure portion of one ‘cast blew me away!)
Liam W

(reply) Some links to help you along

16 Responses to “Conlangery #54: Reduplication”

  1. Anthony

    Shi shi, xi xi. This issue has a lot of food for thought. Great work once again.

    • Anthony Docimo

      Just wondering if the Mandarin words for “thank you” above, are examples of reduplication, of echoing, or of something else.

      • admin

        Hmm, I guess that you could analyze 谢谢 (xie4xie) “thank you” historically as a reduplication of 谢 “to decline (a gift, offer, etc)”. But it doesn’t really follow any of the productive reduplication patterns that occur now.

  2. Kraamlep

    Great episode on reduplication. So good, I had to listen to part of it again…

  3. Carsten B.

    My conlang uses partial and full reduplication for diminutives, cohortatives, and repetitive or repeated actions. There’s mostly no synchronic alteration of morphemes involved, though.

  4. john Erickson

    My conlang FairyLang uses reduplication in a few ways, most transparently for emphasizing (assuming I’m using the word correctly, lol) adjectives. For example, “agan” (big) becomes “aganagan” (very big) and “falyte” (pretty) becomes “falyfalyte” (very pretty). The way it marks plurals and derives adjectives from noun also involves reduplication, albeit in a modified way.

    • john Erickson

      …and I think I’ve decided to use some kind of reduplication on verbs for reciprocals. Now I just have to figure out the specifics of how I’ll implement it.

  5. Carsten B.

    Another use of reduplication in Indonesian apart from forming noun plurals as mentioned by William is with adjectives to form concessive adverbials. Sneddon, in his Comprehensive Grammar of Indonesian (Routledge 1996, p. 19), gives as examples (glossing by me according to looking stuff up in the grammar and a dictionary; Sneddon unfortunately doesn’t provide any glosses):

    Kecil-kecil, si Ali sudah pacaran.
    although~little, DIM Ali already dating.
    ‘Although young, Ali already has a girl friend.’

    Sakit-sakit, dia pergi juga ke sekolah.
    although~sick, 3S go anyway to school.
    ‘Although sick, he still went to school.’

    I think that’s pretty neat.

    • wm.annis

      That is pretty neat!

      It reminds me a bit of the development of περ in classical Greek. In pre-classical use, it just means “very,” but it got used so often in constructions with participles meaning “although very ADJ,” that it eventually came to just mean “although.” I sort of wonder if Indonesian adj. RED started out with a more expected scalar meaning.

      So, that might be an interesting avenue of investigation: the grammaticalization of scalar intensives into concessive “although.”

    • admin

      Is that still going? I did check that podcast out some time ago, but it seemed totally dead.

  6. Teal Briner

    I thought I’d leave a comment with the reduplication system I’m working on in my fledgling conlang, even though this episode is quite old. I’m not sure if it’s naturalistic, but I like it!

    The first use I have for reduplication is, naturally, plurals. The onset (if available) and nucleus of the first syllable in the noun is repeated at the end of the stem. That creates a dual noun. i.e. łomna, flower, becomes łomnało, two flowers. To create a general plural, you add the onset and nucleus of the second syllable. Thus, flowers is łomnałona.

    The fun part is that because there are some mass nouns in the language (i.e. imya, roots), there is also a way to turn these nouns into singulars by adding the second-to-last syllable at the end. However, in this case that would cause *imyaim, and vowels aren’t allowed next to each other. So the next consonant is taken from the root word to create imyayim.

    But wait! There’s more! Although it’s not technically grammatical, people will take plural forms of nouns and then apply the singular rules to specify an instance of that noun in a crowd of them. For example, owisowi (hands) becomes owisowiwo (that hand in particular). And then, for extra wackiness, people sometimes take mass nouns, pluralize them, and then add the singular for the same effect. So imyamiyayim means “that root in particular.” It’s a fun, if possibly impractical, system.

  7. Theo C

    Listening to the podcast years and years later….

    I’m using reduplication to differentiate between recent past and distant past. “ko” is my past marker (it gets added to the verb stem).
    Example with a made up verb and simplified phonetics:
    Mar an – I walk
    Komarir an – I walked (recent past)
    Kogomarir an – I walked (distant past)

    I’ve only been working on m language for ten months, intending to use reduplication for other purposes as well. I love your podcast, thank you and keep it up!

  8. Rywko

    In Arabic all syllables without exception begin with a consonant, the aliph y’all talked about is called hamzätu lwaṣl “the connecting hamza”, it’s interesting because it is an epenthentic syllable pronounced /ʔV/ only after a pause/in isolation otherwise the syllable is elided, the reason it exists is because Arabic doesn’t allow onser clusters so CCV becomes ʔVC.CV, but if it preceded by a closed syllables an extra vowel is added, usually /i/ but three special morphemes have their own rules, so for example:

    ṣáħibu /ˈsˁaː.ħi.bu/ “owner of” + ‘alkitábu /ʔal.kiˈtaː.bu/ “the book” —> ṣáħibu lkitábi /ˈsˁaː.ħi.bu_l.kiˈtaː.bi/ “the owner of the book”

    min /min/ “from” + ‘alkitábu /ʔal.kiˈtaː.bu/ “the book” —> mina lkitábi /ˈmi.na_l.kiˈtaː.bi/ “from the book”

    lakum /ˈla.kum/ “for you” + ‘alkitábu /ʔal.kiˈtaː.bu/ “the book” —> lakumu lkitábu /ˈla.ku.mu_l.kiˈtaː.bu/

    ‘ištaraw /ˈʔiʃ.ta.raw/ “they bought” + ‘alkitábu /ʔal.kiˈtaː.bu/ “the book” —> ‘ištarawu lkitába /ˈʔiʃ.ta.ra.wu_l.kiˈtaː.ba/ “they bought the book”


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