Ablaut Reduplication

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Ablaut Reduplication

Post by trolley » Fri Jan 28, 2022 9:53 pm

Sometimes I don't even know what I know...https://www.almtranslations.com/news/bl ... f-hop-hip/
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Re: Ablaut Reduplication

Post by Phil White » Sat Jan 29, 2022 5:20 pm

Yes, very nice. But the pudding has been a little over-egged. It is a tendency, all other things being equal, but all other things are not always equal.

The examples "tick tock", "flip flop", etc. are all well-established, and new examples are quite hard to find. The ablaut reduplication mechanism, whilst being a perfectly valid description, cannot really be seen a s productive rule that governs the way we speak.

As far as the sequence of adjectives is concerned, if the "rule" were as imperative as the writer would have us believe, we would be constrained to say "a thick, bland soup" rather than "a bland, thick soup". In fact, either are possible, depending on the focus we want to establish (i.e. the normal conventions for the sequence of adjectives apply). But the mechanism of ablaut reduplication can probably be applied when analysing "big bad wolf" (although it would be a misnomer, as there is no actual reduplication going on here). Or to take another example, "the old, fat dog" / "the fat old dog"). Again, either are possible. We are not constrained to use "fat, old dog". And even if we duplicate the consonants, there is no ablaut constraint on the order: "a fat, fit sumo wrestler" / "a fit, fat sumo wrestler".

It is an interesting observation that, if we repeat onomatopoeic words and change the vowel sound (as in "tick-tock"), we only do so from front to back (or high to low - the point is moot). But it is not a "rule" that governs anything else.

From a rhetorical perspective, however, it is true that word combinations in which the vowel is lowered and/or backed tend to be memorable and effective ("dead duck", "wily fox", ...).
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Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

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