Edward Sapir > Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech > Subject Index > Page 79
Edward Sapir (1884–1939).  Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.  1921.

Page 79
of the primary grammatical processes of the language.
  Perhaps as remarkable as these Irish phenomena are the consonantal interchanges of Ful, an African language of the Soudan. Here we find that all nouns belonging to the personal class form the plural by changing their initial g, j, d, b, k, ch, and p to y (or w), y, r, w, h, s and f respectively; e.g., jim-o “companion,” yim-’be “companions”; pio-o “beater,” fio-’be “beaters.” Curiously enough, nouns that belong to the class of things form their singular and plural in exactly reverse fashion, e.g., yola-re “grass-grown place,” jola-je “grass-grown places”; fitan-du “soul,” pital-i “souls.” In Nootka, to refer to but one other language in which the process is found, the t or tl 20 of many verbal suffixes becomes hl in forms denoting repetition, e.g., hita-’ato “to fall out,” hita-’ahl “to keep falling out”; mat-achisht-utl “to fly on to the water,” mat-achisht-ohl “to keep flying on to the water.” Further, the hl of certain elements changes to a peculiar h-sound in plural forms, e.g., yak-ohl “sore-faced,” yak-oh “sore-faced (people).”
  Nothing is more natural than the prevalence of reduplication, in other words, the repetition of all or part of the radical element. The process is generally employed, with self-evident symbolism, to indicate such concepts as distribution, plurality, repetition, customary activity, increase of size, added intensity, continuance. Even in English it is not unknown, though it is not generally accounted one of the typical formative devices of our language. Such words as goody-goody and to pooh-pooh have become accepted as part of our normal vocabulary, but the method of duplication may on occasion be used more freely than is indicated by such stereotyped
Note 20.  These orthographies are but makeshifts for simple sounds. [back]


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