Reduplication (language)

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The reduplication is a morphological process in which sounds , syllables , words or repeated parts of words, by copying a particular portion or a sound chain of the base word, connects this Reduplikat again to the base and thus forms the derivative form of the base. There is a partial reduplication in which only part of the base is doubled and a total reduplication with a complete doubling of the word. This methodology is used in most languages ​​of the world, among other things to form forms of the past, plural , diminutive etc. ( inflection ). But it is also used in word formation for the development of new words.

"Nothing is more natural than the prevalence of reduplication, in other words, the repetition of all or part of the radical element."

"Nothing is more natural than the (frequent) occurrence of reduplication, in other words the repetition of all or part of the basic element."


Fiji : bota - "mature" → bo ~ bota - "begin to mature"
Georgian : lamaz- - "pretty" → lamaz ~ lamaz- - "very pretty"
Kiribati : burae - "hair" → burae ~ rae - "hairy"
Indonesian : orang - "human" → orang orang - "people"
Japanese : hito (人) - "human" → hito ~ bito (人人 or 人 ) - "people, humanity"
Mandarin : rén - "person" → rén ~ rén - "everyone"
Papiamentu : ketu - "still" → ketu ~ ketu - "very still"
Italian : piano - here: "slowly" → piano piano - "very slowly, gradually, also: so slowly I get angry!" (In Italian always an increase; cf. forte (strong) and bello (beautiful))

Reduplication in German

In German, according to popular belief, reduplication rarely occurs. Prefixes can also be duplicated or iterated : greatur ... grandmother , before before before ... yesterday . In the language of children , such jerky words are to be found more often, think of mom and dad , Wauwau .

The preterital form tat (older: t / tet ) to do contains a remnant of the old Indo-European perfect reduplication with the double 't' . This is preserved in ancient Greek , Sanskrit and remnants in Latin . The Greek verb παιδεύω paideuō (I educate) forms the perfect πεπαίδευκα pepaideuka (I brought up), in Latin tango (I touch) the perfect form is tetigī (I have touched) (so-called reduplication perfect ).

In go and those German verbs whose stem vowel in the infinitive and the past participle is the same in the past tense but -ie- is (cf .: strong verbs ); the same also goes back to the Perfektreduplikation, which synchronously here not as such can be recognized and the historical development of these forms still awaits complete clarification.

Reduplication words (coll. Also: "Doppelmoppel") are often naturalized from foreign languages, such as candy or tamtam .

The term reduplication is not always clear. Words that form a compound with themselves ( auto compound ) are often not considered as such. Competence competence z. B. is sometimes referred to as the longest German word formed by reduplication. In fact, however, it is a determinative compound that emphasizes the importance of competence in creating competencies (cf. also French: compétence de la compétence ). Please-please , small-small, on the other hand, which only express “reinforcement”, “intensification”, are reduplications.

In colloquial language, a reduplication of a word can also result in the restriction of an ambiguous word to the original or main meaning, e.g. B. friend-friend . This phenomenon is called contrastive focus reduplication .

Reduplication in Swiss German

In Swiss German , in contrast to Standard German and Swiss Standard German, reduplications of verbs and interrogative pronouns are often used.

Reduplication of verbs

Swiss German describes imminent actions with the auxiliary verbs gaa “go”, cho “come”, laa “let”, afange “begin”. These verbs all have an unstressed form, which is used in the doubling or even tripling, which is used in connection with an infinitive following the verb.


  • I gang go poste. or I gang goge poschte. (Doubling of gaa with go , tripling with goge . Meaning in standard German: I'm going shopping, right now. )
  • I'm lying chum cho. or I'm lying chum choge. (Doubling of cho , tripling with choge . Meaning in standard German: I'll come and see, right now. )
  • I do laa di la. or I do la di lala. (Doubling of laa with la , tripling with lala . Meaning in standard German: I'll let you do it, from now on. )
  • I catch afa eat. (Meaning in standard German: I'll start eating, right now. Doubling of afa .)

Reduplication of interrogative pronouns

Swiss German also knows the reduplication of interrogative pronouns. It is used to reinforce the question. The doubling takes place either by repeating the interrogative pronoun at the end of the question sentence or by reduplicating the interrogative pronoun itself, whereby the connective syllable li is inserted. The reduplication is only used with monosyllabic interrogative pronouns what and who applied in open questions.

Examples: (Meaning in standard German: What are we doing tomorrow, please? )

  • What am I doing what? (Reduplication with the second interrogative pronoun at the end of the sentence.)
  • What am I doing morn? (Reduplication of the interrogative pronoun.)

Reduplication in ancient Greek

In ancient Greek, the reduplication occurs as a sign of the perfect stem. If the verb begins with a simple consonant other than ρ, this consonant is reduplicated with the vowel ε in front of the verb. In case of aspirate is the appropriate Tenuis λύω Perf. Λέ but λυκα θεάομαι Perf. Τε θέαμαι. If the verb begins with muta cum liquida , only the muta occurs with ε before the verb: κλείω Perf. Κέ κλεικα. In all other cases there is no reduplication, instead the perfect is formed with augment .

A few verbs have a present tense reduction with the vowel ι, with which they differ from the actual verbal stem: δί δωμι Verbal stem: δω


A distinction is made between different forms of reduplication formation:

  • simple duplication (exact duplication):
    • pap. : ketu ~ ketu "very quiet",
    • German: small-small , hopp-hopp , Tamtam , Wauwau .
  • Rhyme doubling (rhyming, echo word formation):
    • bik. : harap-hasap "rough",
    • english: party-shmarty ,
    • German: Heckmeck , Kuddelmuddel , Techtelmechtel , hocus-pocus , Schickimicki , ratzfatz , ruckzuck . Rarely with an intervening syllable : Tohuwabohu .
  • Ablaut doubling (apophonic doubling):
    • When reduplicating with ablaut, there is usually a change from i to a in German: z. B. paraphernalia , back handspring , mishmash , singsong , ritsch-ratchet , snip-snap , tick-tack , confusion , zigzags , bickering , frills , Sideshow .
    • In English there is usually a change from i to o: z. B. flip-flop , hip-hop , ping-pong , tip-top .
  • rare: triplication (e.g. pipapo ).

See also


  • Jacques André: Les mots a redoublement en latin . In: Études et commentaires , 90. Klincksieck, Paris 1978.
  • Andrzej Zdzisław Bzdęga: Reduplicated word formation in German . Praca Wydana z Zasiłku Polskiej Akademii Nauk, Poznań 1965.
  • Bernhard Hurch (ed.): Studies on Reduplication . In: Empirical Approaches to Language Typology , 28. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin 2005.
  • Edith Moravcsik: Reduplicative Constructions . In: Joseph Greenberg (ed.) Universals of Human Language . Vol. 3, Word Structure . Stanford University Press, 1978, pp. 297-334.
  • August Pott : Duplication (reduplication, gemination) as one of the most important educational means of language, illuminated from languages ​​of all parts of the world . Meyer, Lemgo / Detmold 1862. ( Institute for Linguistics , Humanities Faculty of the Karl-Franzens-University Graz)
  • Peter Rühmkorf : agar agar - zaurzaurim. On the natural history of rhyme and the human nerves of appeal . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 1985, ISBN 3-518-11307-0 .
  • Wolfgang Schindler: Reduplicating word formation in German . In: Journal for Phonetics, Linguistics and Communication Research . 44, 1991, pp. 597-613.
  • Françoise Skoda: Le redoublement expressif: un universal linguistique. Analysis du procédé en grec ancien et en d'autres langues . 15, numéro spécial. Société d'études linguistiques et anthropologiques de France, Paris 1982.
  • Richard Wiese: About the interaction of morphology and phonology - reduplication in German . In: Journal for Phonetics, Linguistics and Communication Research . 43, 1990, pp. 603-624.
  • Jinyang Zhu, Christine Culp, Karl-Heinz Best: Forms and functions of duplications in Chinese compared to German . In: Oriens Extremus , 38, H. 1/2, 1995, pp. 183-208.

Web links

Wiktionary: Reduplication  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Directory: German / Reduplications  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Edward Sapir: Language. An Introduction to the Study of Speech . Harcourt Brace & Company, San Diego / New York / London 1921. p. 76.
  2. 人人 #Japanese in the English-language Wiktionary
  3. The Graz Database on reduplication , University of Graz.
  4. Bross, F., & Fraser, K. (2020). Contrastive focus reduplication and the modification puzzle . Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics , 5 (1), 47.
  5. Katja Schlatter Gappisch: The doubling of the verb laa ' Lassen ' in Zurich German . In: Linguistics online . tape 45 , no. 1 , January 1, 2011, p. 35–52 , doi : 10.13092 / lo.45.387 ( [accessed on April 13, 2020]).
  6. Natascha Frey: W-word doubling in Swiss German . In: Helen Christen (Ed.): Linguistics Online . tape 24 , no. 3 , July 1, 2005, p. 135–154 , doi : 10.13092 / lo.24.640 ( [accessed on April 13, 2020]).
  7. The terms "simple doubling", "rhyming doubling", and "ablaut doubling" are used by Wolfgang Fleischer, Irmhild Barz, with the collaboration of Marianne Schröder: Word formation of contemporary German. 2nd, revised and supplemented edition. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1995, ISBN 3-484-10682-4 , p. 48 and von Duden. The grammar. 7th, completely new and expanded edition. Dudenverlag: Mannheim / Leipzig / Wien / Zurich 2005, ISBN 3-411-04047-5 , p. 453 f., P. 680 used.
  8. DUDEN newsletter of November 26, 2010 ( Memento of the original of February 14, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /