Edward Sapir > Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech > Subject Index > Page 80
Edward Sapir (1884–1939).  Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.  1921.

Page 80
examples. Such locutions as a big big man or Let it cool till it’s thick thick are far more common, especially in the speech of women and children, than our linguistic textbooks would lead one to suppose. In a class by themselves are the really enormous number of words, many of them sound-imitative or contemptuous in psychological tone, that consist of duplications with either change of the vowel or change of the initial consonant—words of the type sing-song, riff-raff, wishy-washy, harum-skarum, roly-poly. Words of this type are all but universal. Such examples as the Russian Chudo-Yudo (a dragon), the Chinese ping-pang “rattling of rain on the roof,” 21 the Tibetan kyang-kyong “lazy,” and the Manchu porpon parpan “blear-eyed” are curiously reminiscent, both in form and in psychology, of words nearer home. But it can hardly be said that the duplicative process is of a distinctively grammatical significance in English. We must turn to other languages for illustration. Such cases as Hottentot go-go “to look at carefully” (from go “to see”), Somali fen-fen “to gnaw at on all sides” (from fen “to gnaw at”), Chinook iwi-iwi “to look about carefully, to examine” (from iwi “to appear”), or Tsimshian am’ am “several (are) good” (from am “good”) do not depart from the natural and fundamental range of significance of the process. A more abstract function is illustrated in Ewe, 22 in which both infinitives and verbal adjectives are formed from verbs by duplication; e.g., yi “to go” yiyi “to go, act of going”; wo “to do,” wowo 23 “done”; mawomawo “not to do” (with both duplicated verb stem and duplicated negative particle). Causative duplications
Note 21.  Whence our ping-pong. [back]
Note 22.  An African language of the Guinea Coast. [back]
Note 23.  In the verbal adjective the tone of the second syllable differs from that of the first. [back]


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