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Date: Mon, 09 Jan 2006 22:37:08 -0500 From: Mike Maxwell Subject: Studies on Reduplication
EDITOR: Hurch, Bernhard TITLE: Studies on Reduplication SERIES: Empirical Approaches to Language Typology 28 PUBLISHER: Mouton de Gruyter YEAR: 2005
Mike Maxwell, Center for Advanced Study of Language, University of Maryland
The papers in this book were originally given at the Graz Conference on Reduplication in 2002. It appears that the authors were given the opportunity to revise their papers after the conference.
The conference organizers requested that presenters ''strengthen their theoretical claims with broad substantive evidence'', and the papers by and large reflect this dual perspective of theory and data, although naturally the papers range from those making strongly theoretical points to those mostly concerned with data.
With twenty five papers in this volume, I will not attempt to analyze each one. The editor does a good job of summarizing the papers in his introduction (and Carl Rubino gives an overview of reduplication processes around the world, setting the stage for the further discussion). Rather, I will discuss the book and its papers by themes. (The table of contents is available at http://www.degruyter.com/rfiles/p/3110181193Contents.pdf.)
1. Repetition vs. reduplication: Diachronically, one plausible path to reduplication starts from repetition. If reduplication is grammaticalized repetition, then distinguishing the two requires some criteria. David Gil proposes several such criteria, e.g. that reduplication is only word- sized, never phrasal. Gil's criteria give unclear results in some cases (as he recognizes).
Contrary to Gil, Sharon Inkelas, in discussing her construction- based ''Morphological Doubling Theory'' (see below), explicitly argues that phrasal doubling can and should be treated as the same sort of operation as morphological reduplication.
Also disagreeing with Gil, Utz Maas looks at a number of reduplication and reduplication-like syntactic constructions in Arabic languages, and in particular on the use of the 'masdar', a form rather like a gerund in English. The masdar is morphologically derived from a verb, and is often used together with an inflected form of the same verb to strengthen the meaning of the whole, rather like ''Hitting, he hit'' to mean ''He hit violently.'' (Readers of more literal translations of the Bible will be familiar with this construction from another Semitic language, Hebrew.) If this is reduplication, rather than a stylistic form of repetition, then the two parts of the reduplicant are inflected differently.
As these papers show, the distinction between repetition and reduplication looks more like a cline than a sharp division. Some theories are able to handle such gradient distinctions, while others posit very different mechanisms for repetition and reduplication, so that a dividing line somewhere is necessary. I anticipate further disagreement on this issue in the future.
If it is unclear in some cases whether the repetition of a phrase or differently inflected forms of a word constitutes reduplication, a lack of clarity is apparent at the opposite end of the continuum, too. Dina El Zarka argues that consonantal gemination in Arabic should be treated as reduplication, on the grounds that it is at least partly morphological (not just prosodic) in nature. While this seems reasonable, El Zarka further argues against the notion that gemination is an endpoint in Arab grammaticalization, because some varieties of modern Arabic utilize both gemination and full reduplication (in biconsonantal roots), and the geminated forms are demonstrably older. The geminated forms therefore cannot, El Zarka claims, have arisen from reduplicated forms. I found this less convincing; surely reduplication can arise more than once in a language. (El Zarka does not claim that the forms with full reduplication arose from the geminated forms, only that the former are replacing the latter in some contexts.)
2. Morphological vs. Phonological Reduplication: Sharon Inkelas argues for her ''Morphological Doubling Theory'', in which a reduplicative morpheme is treated not as an empty prosodic structure that gets filled by copying from an adjacent base, but rather as the actual (grammaticalized) repetition of a morphological constituent, with possible subsequent truncation. But several of her pieces of evidence lend themselves to re-analysis in a phonologically-based theory. For instance, in Mokilese, most verb stems form progressives through prefixing CVC reduplication. Monosyllabic verb stems, however, use triplication. Inkelas claims that a phonological theory would have to analyze the triplicated forms as being having two instances of a 'RED' morpheme, which should—but does not—imply a meaning difference. In contrast, her morphological construction-based theory simply requires the daughter to appear twice for monosyllabic verbs. I am less than convinced by this argument; it seems that in either case, monosyllabic verbs are a special case, and it is not clear why the morphological theory fares any better than a phonological theory. Moreover, the phonological theory she uses here is really a straw man. The right theory to compare, it seems to me, would be a phonologically-based theory using a prosodic template requiring a progressive form to contain at least three syllables (or perhaps two feet). The triplication of monosyllabic stems is then explicable as being the only way to fill this template.
Inkelas also argues from 'synonym compounds' in Southeast Asian languages (Khmer and Vietnamese), in which the compound consists of two more or less synonymous words. (In some cases the glosses of the two words are identical, while in others they are only similar— e.g. 'old' and 'mature'. But of course glosses can be misleading, and it seems likely that all the word pairs in this construction are not perfectly synonymous.) If these synonym compounds are reduplications, then it is clear that reduplication does not consist of phonological copying, since the words in question are phonologically quite different. Inkelas also brings up an antonym compound construction in Acehnese (the compounds have glosses like 'old and young', 'day and night'). While these are interesting constructions, it is unclear to me that anything like this is attested in clear (morphological) cases of reduplication. If these compounds are not reduplication, then they are actually counter-evidence to Inkelas' theory.
Back-copying is the situation where both the base and the reduplicant undergo a phonological process, despite the fact that only the reduplicant is in the environment for the rule. This has of course been cited as evidence for such non-derivational theories of phonology as Optimality Theory (OT). Fiona McLaughlin gives an interesting example of this phenomenon, from the Atlantic language Seereer- Siin. The phonological process involves consonant mutation. McLaughlin argues that back-copying in this case is not actually phonological , but rather an instance of an affix consisting of a single feature which is associated to both the base and the reduplicant. McLaughlin then uses this analysis to argue for Inkelas' theory of reduplication. While McLaughlin expresses her theory in terms of OT, it would be interesting to see if her re-analysis could be recast in a derivational theory of phonology.
Finally, Rajendra Singh discusses another compound noun construction, this one in Hindi; the two nouns are constrained to be synonymous (or antonymous), but non-identical. Elinor Keane discusses echo reduplication in several south Asian languages, including cases where the base may be smaller or larger than a word.
3. The Emergence of The Unmarked ('TETU'): Since McCarthy and Prince (1994), the expectation among Optimality Theory (OT) practitioners is that where the base and the reduplicant differ, the reduplicant will be if anything less marked than the base. Laura Downing discusses cases where the opposite is true—specifically, cases where the reduplicant, but not the base, has a marked tone. While her arguments seem sound, I was left wondering why markedness in reduplication is only attested with marked tone. Downing discusses this, suggesting that the autosegmental and prosodic nature of tone explain this asymmetry. I am ready to believe that these properties of tone account for the facts, but that potentially removes the issue from the realm of theory. Putting this differently, it seems to me that TETU can then be explained by the non- autosegmental, non-prosodic nature of other features, leaving nothing to be explained by theories such as OT.
4. Complete vs. partial reduplication: Nicole Nelson looks at cases where a partial reduplicant surfaces on the ''wrong'' side of the base, i.e. where a reduplicative suffix unexpectedly matches the first part of the base, or a reduplicative prefix unexpectedly matches the last part of the base. Nelson concludes that all such cases can be explained away, for example by a phonological process which (in descriptive, not theoretical terms) operates after full reduplication to trim off a portion of the reduplicant.
5. Historical studies: Jason D. Haugen tries to reconstruct reduplication in proto-Uto-Aztecan. It has often been argued that the life cycle of reduplication begins with the repetition of complete words, with the scope of reduplication eroding over time to yield partial reduplication. Since the time depth of Uto-Aztecan is fairly high, reconstructing reduplicative processes which are similar to the modern day reduplicative processes presupposes that reduplication morphemes in this family have not greatly changed during that time (although one or another process has been lost in most languages of the family). That is, while the synchronic similarities are clear, the nature of the reconstructed processes in the proto-language might, it seems to me, have been quite different.
Reijirou Shibasaki overviews the history of grammaticalization of verbal reduplicants in Japanese, insofar as this can be pieced together from extant corpora.
Leonid Kulikov sketches the issues surrounding reduplication during the documented history of the Vedic language. The quantity of data and analysis that has gone into this long extinct but well attested language is matched by the variety of reduplicative devices. If all languages could be documented and described so extensively, one might worry less about language endangerment, at least from a theoretical standpoint! I can only echo Kulikov's concluding remark that students of reduplication would do well to look closely at the evidence from Vedic.
6. Child language: It has been observed that reduplication often arises in creole languages, despite being virtually unattested in pidgin languages (see below). One way reduplication might arise ex nihilo is child language, and several papers explore reduplication among first language learners. Wofgang Dressler, Katarzyna Dziubalska- Kolaczyk, Naalia Gagarina and Marianne Kilani-Schoch provide examples of children producing reduplicants in a variety of languages which (in their adult form) lack productive reduplication, perhaps as a simplification of adult polysyllabic words. A theoretical account of this stage might resemble accounts of reduplication in which an empty syllable in a bisyllabic foot is filled by spreading of the melody from an adjacent syllable, although Dressler et al do not put it in those terms.
Marie Leroy and Aliyah Morgenstern observed a child in the very early stages of acquisition of French. They remark that this child seemed to be a slow language learner at that point, but that he displayed a great deal of reduplication. It is not however clear to me that this reduplication has any bearing on the later use of reduplication in morphology, since it is not clear at this early stage of language learning that there is any morphology. That is, the child may simply be repeating full ''words''.
Finally, Hatice Sofu looks at the acquisition of a partial reduplicant affix in Turkish. This reduplicant is unusual in several ways: it is virtually the only prefix in Turkish, and it includes a coda consonant which is not part of the base. Which coda consonant is used in any particular word, however, is difficult to pin down. Turkish grammars give a number of rules for determining the appropriate consonant. Sofu tested whether children had learned these rules by having them reduplicate nonce words, and the children are far from consistent. But as it turns out, adults exhibit even more variation in this task than children do. One obvious possibility is that the putative rules do not represent the adults' competence, and that the coda consonant has simply been lexicalized.
7. Teleology: Suzanne Urbanczyk argues that phonological rules sometimes function to render two otherwise identical processes of reduplication non-homophonous. As she admits, the claim is difficult to argue (as functionalist claims often are); in part, the difficulty lies in establishing that something requires a functionalist explanation. But there is also the question of what to ascribe the function or purpose to. Does language change somehow have as its goal preventing homophony? This seems unlikely; on the contrary, as has often been noted, language change seems blind to such goals.
But if language change is blind to preventing homophony, in what sense can a process be said to fulfill a function? At first glance, a Darwinian parallel seems plausible, but it is far from clear what is doing the selecting. Languages do not have more or fewer descendents because they are more or less iconic or functional, nor is it at all clear that iconic constructions are preferentially maintained in daughter languages. Indeed languages seem to be replete with unnecessary morphological baggage. Declension and conjugation classes and grammatical gender have been retained through millennia of Indo-European languages, but are familiar impediments to generations of second language students of these same languages (a point made by Carstairs-McCarthy 1994). In sum, if language change has any goal, it seems unlikely to be that of making languages more functional.
A different issue of teleology is mentioned in passing in the article by Leroy and Morgenstern discussed above. These authors observe that reduplication may serve to help in first language learning, by enabling the child to discover phonological regularities, and to temporarily avoid some of the complexities of polysyllabic words.
8. Iconicity: One might expect that reduplication would be iconic, i.e. that its meaning would tend to imply ''more of the same''. For signed languages, the case for the iconicity of reduplication seems reasonably clear, as discussed by Ronnie B. Wilbur in her paper ''A reanalysis of reduplication in American Sign Language.''
But the iconic motivation for reduplication is not always so obvious. Silvia Kouwenberg and Darlene LaCharite address the fact that the semantics of reduplication is sometimes anti-iconic, giving meanings like ''reddish'' or ''biggish (but still growing)''. They begin with the fact that for some predicates—this is most obvious with those implying continuous action or states—''more'' means ''customarily'', while for other predicates—punctual verbs, for instance—it takes on a discontinuous meaning, such as ''repeatedly''. The distinction can carry over to predicates which may imply a state that is localized, e.g. 'yellow' can refer to something that is yellow spotted. But something that is spotted with yellow is no longer yellow all over, and it is a slight extension from 'yellow spotted' to 'yellowish'. Kouwenberg and LaCharite thus claim that ''seemingly opposite interpretations of reduplication both instantiate the iconic principle.''
Their story certainly seems plausible as an historical explanation, but it leaves open the question of what the putative iconic principle is. Is it a deep fact about language, as instantiated in human minds? Or is it simply a pragmatic fact that some sorts of attributes (color, for example) can be discontinuous, and therefore lend themselves pragmatically to a discontinuous meaning, while others (weight, say) are nearly always properties of continuous objects? Or to put this differently, does the Iconic Principle have any use in first language acquisition?
Werner Abraham tackles anti-iconicity from a more theoretic perspective, although it appears that he reconsidered this position before the paper was published. He raises the amusing question of why reduplication is the only morphological process for which linguists have attempted to find an iconic explanation; why not infixing, or metathesis?
9. Creoles: Peter Bakker and Mikael Parkvall give an overview of reduplication in creoles (for a book length discussion, see Kouwenberg 2003, reviewed here (Linguist List 15.1689). They focus on the fact that reduplication is virtually absent from pidgins, but common in creoles. Under the assumption that creoles are descended from pidgins (and that those pidgins lacked reduplication in the same way that present-day pidgins do), the obvious question is where reduplication in creoles comes from. One answer would be that it is something children do naturally, and that creoles are ''constructed'' by children (cf. the papers discussed above under ' Child language'). But Bakker and Parkvall lean towards a different answer, namely that reduplication enters a creole through the influence of adstratal languages, that is, it is borrowed in from other languages spoken in the community while the creole is forming. However, creoles usually have complete reduplication, whereas reduplication in more ''mature'' languages (including presumably the adstratal languages) is often partial. While Bakker and Parkvall note this fact, they do not draw the implication that it might weigh against the theory of adstratal borrowing. Also, the function of reduplication in creoles is often—but not always—different from that of the presumed adstratal (substratal) languages. In the end, of course, both explanations may be correct; some creoles may have borrowed reduplicative strategies (and meanings) from adstratal languages, while other creoles innovated them.
Kouwenberg and LaCharite's paper (mentioned above) also concerns Creoles.
10. Sign languages: Linguists should be thankful that sign languages exist, because of the unique light they throw on human language. Two papers discuss reduplication in signed languages. Roland Pfau and Markus Steinbach on German Sign Language (GSL), and Ronnie B. Wilbur on American Sign Language (ASL). Wilbur's article was discussed above, under the topic of iconicity.
GSL exhibits at least two reduplication morphemes, which Pfau and Steinbach dub 'backward' and 'sideward' reduplication. In backward reduplication, the reduplicant sign is performed in the backwards direction from the base sign; in sideward reduplication, the reduplicants (of which there are two, i.e. this is a case of triplication) are signed in a location to the side of where the base was signed. (Both morphemes have ''phonologically'' conditioned allomorphs which do not involve backward or sideward production.) Neither kind of reduplication has been attested in spoken languages. In the case of backward reduplication, this is presumably because spoken morphemes consist of a sequence of phonemes, and human languages do not, so far as we know, reverse such a sequence (nor do sign languages reverse a sequence of signs). And for spoken morphemes consisting of a single phoneme, it is unclear what it would mean to reverse the direction of that phoneme. In contrast, a sign—or a portion of a sign that involves movement in some direction—can be easily reversed. As for sideward reduplication, it is not even clear what it would mean to produce a spoken phoneme to one side; perhaps the closest analogy would be to attach a different tone to the reduplicant (something which is indeed attested, as discussed in Downing's article).
11. Other issues: Francoise Rose investigates reduplication in Emerillon, a Tupi-Guarani language. One of the issues, too often taken for granted, is how (or perhaps in some cases, whether) one can distinguish the reduplicant from the base.
In an earlier review on Linguist List (http://linguistlist.org/issues/12/12- 2062.html) I commented on a study of reduplication in which the corpus was not large enough — it did not contain enough examples of reduplication—to answer some critical questions. The issue surfaces in some of the studies here, too. In particular, Keane comments that ''the sample size…is obviously too small to draw any hard and fast conclusions.'' Shibasaki makes a similar point: a particular pattern of reduplication is known from modern Japanese, but not attested in the corpus which he was working with. This is a critical issue for field linguists. It is also critical to know whether any particular reduplicative construction is productive, something which is not always made clear in descriptions (or even in theoretical analyses).
Finally, I will comment on the price. At 128 euros, I suspect few linguists will be tempted to buy this book. That is perhaps unfortunate for the authors, whose contributions will not receive as great dissemination as they otherwise would. There are, of course, alternative ways to distribute conference papers. The publisher's website does contain a list of authors, with their addresses (http://www.degruyter.de/downloads/3110181193Update%20on% 20Contributor's%20addresses.pdf).
Kouwenberg, Silvia (ed.). 2003. Twice as Meaningful: Reduplication in Pidgins, Creoles and other Contact Languages. Westminster Creolistics Series 8. London: Battlebridge.
Carstairs-McCarthy, Andrew. 1994. ''Inflection Classes, Gender, and the Principle of Contrast.'' Language 70:737-788.
McCarthy, John J., and Alan Prince. 1994. ''The Emergence of the Unmarked: Optimality in Prosodic Morphology.'' Mercè Gonzàlez, ed., Proceedings of the North East Linguistics Society 24, GLSA, Amherst, MA. Pp. 333-379. Available from the Rutgers Optimality Archive at http://roa.rutgers.edu.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Mike Maxwell works on computational morphology and low density languages for the Center for the Advanced Study of Language at the University of Maryland. He has a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Washington.