Thursday, 5 January 2023

Grandpa Greg's Advanced Grammar: (re)DUPLICATIONS

Authors' Note: Reduplications as they are best known, sometimes also called duplications, are language forms (morphs), usually for nouns, in which an element of the word is repeated with little or no change; they figure prominently among the most musical elements in English and in other languages. To this author, the more commonly used term seems redundant. Many other examples begin with the letter 'h', e.g. harum-scarum, helter-skelter, higgeldy-piggeldyhillbilly, and hubba-hubba.

Authors' Note: The disparaging term gobbledegook was first used in 1944 by a Texas politician named Maverick (scion of the original staunchly independent thinker). Its meaning — pompous, overinflated language — gave rise a few year later to the equivalent bafflegab. These expressions, employing repetition of sounds, have a musical and amusing quality, as do their venerable synonyms --hogwashpoppycockbalderdashbunkum and tommyrot, but only their close cousin claptrap (alternately clap-trap) -- would qualify as a reduplication.

Authors' Note: (usually, FUD-uhl-dud-uhl, or with a French lilt, as here, fud-uhl-DUD-uhl)

an infrequently used (re)duplication, voiced dismissively in dealing with opinions that the speaker rejects.

In 1971 Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, father of current PM Justin Trudeau, unleashed a minor scandal by using unparliamentary language in the Canadian House of Commons. A portion of the ensuing brouhaha, deftly sidestepped by Trudeau, revolved around whether he had actually spoken or merely mouthed the inappropriate words.

Web discussion:

Authors' Note: 

(FUD-ee-dud-ee, or as a possibility here, fud-ee-DUD-ee). Another example of a (re)duplication.

Authors' Note: Higgledy-piggledy is yet another (re)duplication relating to disorder and impetuousness whose meaning overlaps with helter-skelter, and harum-scarum.

Authors' Note:  It sure warn't easy to pack the whole bunch of neighbors and pals into a single verse. I had to, with the greatest regret, leave out bumpkinscrackerschawbaconsclodhoppershayseeds and yokels. I'll include 'em next time! 


Authors' Note:
bubba: stereotyped male inhabitant of the southern US with an upbeat, but macho attitude
Bubba: frequent nickname for a specific male, as used by his buddies

rubba: rubber (American slang for condom), with typical non-rhotic pronunciation
chick: southern girl

hubba-hubba: intriguing (re)duplication, presumably originating in the US a century ago; an expression of approval voiced by males when viewing a sexually attractive chick


Be prepared, as a plebe, for this blow:

Hoi polloi (Greek) meant every John Doe,

Riff-raffmasses (unwashed);

But that use has been quashed,

By the upper crust now, you should know.

Authors' Note: T
he (re)duplication hoi polloi derives from the ancient Greek term for the many. This expression, tinged with disparagement, like its close cousin riff-raff, was used in English for some time. In a recent inexplicable twist, as described by speedysnail, hoi polloi has come to be used, in some circumstances, to mean the exact opposite.


The authors of the above poetic verses got so enthused about reduplications that they composed a series of patter-songs (in the style of Tom Lehr) dealing with this intriguing linguistic curiosity. If you follow along these links you can learn more grammar, and see dozens of surprising and enlightening examples of this phenomenon. Grab your ukulele, your guitar, or just your larynx, and enjoy singing along!
1)  Lyrics for Singable Satire: "A LESSON ABOUT REDUPLICATIONS

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