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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton 2018

The derivational nature of reduplication and its relation to boundary phenomena

From the book Exact Repetition in Grammar and Discourse

  • Thomas Schwaiger


This chapter takes a fresh look at the status of reduplication in morphology. Modern linguistics has mainly treated the process from a theoretical perspective for its phonological characteristics, thereby often neglecting its likewise special morpho-semantic properties. But, curiously, even the slower growing amount of pertinent functional(-typological) work on the phenomenon has by and large taken for granted that reduplicative forms are equally capable of expressing derivational as well as inflectional meanings. The present study, however, argues reduplication to be of an essentially derivational nature. This is, firstly, shown by checking reduplicative features obtained from language typology against typical criteria for distinguishing morphological inflection and derivation. Secondly, the derivational propensity of reduplication is explained by iconic saliency, making the process prone to express more concrete semantics as opposed to rather abstract inflectional notions. Crucially, what emerges from the discussion is a hitherto unexplored additional criterion for keeping reduplication and repetition apart.

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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