We had a letter
which came through some days ago!
I wouldn’t call it hate mail but it wasn’t ‘Ho, ho, ho’.
’Twas all about a poem
by our friend, D
The SpecGram poet-in-residence, that’s who. Who’s that? That’s me!
The writer (name of Jojo Tutu, based in Bora Bora)
Had, to quote the late, great Cilla Black, a lorra, lorra
Worries that old Deedles had overlooked a verse;
And told us so in terms intoned in tone a touch too terse
The poem was about the mystic magic of suppletion
(Which brings us all, as you must know, ecstatickest elation)
And how it beats hands down the other morpho-mechanisms
Much as Noam’s Ge-ne-ra-ti-vism beats the other -isms.
And Jojo Tutu’s Letter to the Editor ran thus
(I paraphrase—to give all is hardly worth the fuss):
‘You missed a process out! Your poem is non-comprehensive!’
We took it on the chin (and only got a touch defensive).
Can you guess what morpheme-mode was missing, reader? Can you?
If not, God damn, there’s clues above—an’ th’ goddamn title, damn you!
And another clue, if you’re not sure: ‘read up’ on some morphemics!
Have you got it, have you? It’s reduplication! Genius!
So let’s turn to reduplication now so poor all Juju,
Who’s tied up in a tizzy-wizz and stewed up in a stew-stew,
Can once again experience the sense of inner calm
That reading SpecGram’s meant to bring through lingui-silly balm.
They say reduplication is a mighty morpho-mode:
‘Would you like two toads?’ gets rendered ‘Would you like toad-toad?’
There’s ‘full’ (‘mama’) and ‘partial’ (‘itsy-bitsy’, ‘nitty-gritty’)
And this: ‘Your wife’s not pretty, sir! I say she’s pretty-pretty’.
It does plurals, augmentation and frequentatives—it’s iconic!
But sometimes covers past tense or reflexives—that’s moronic.
When 人 becomes 人人, I get it—great reduplication!
But δέρκομαι, δέδορκα just reduplicates frustration.
In terms of its position, it gets up to many tricks:
Redup turns up as a prefix, suffix even infix.
The textbooks love Samoan re the infix: you will see
That ‘he walks’ (savali) becomes ‘they walk’ (savavali).
If that was not enough, here’s yet another cool dimension:
Reduplication cares about the copying direction:
Eye~eyes goes right to left in Tillamook: [gaɬ], [ɬgaɬ], you see?
But [tsiko] (‘wear’) is [tsitsko] ‘often wear’ (L → R!) in Chukchi.
So the syllable is implicated in reduplication;
If onset, rhymes, and codas are your thing then to your stations!
For much that must be said on the mechanics of this thing
Need that sexy sigma syllable, not just 1D CV strings.
We don’t-don’t see-see much reduplication in-in English:
It’s relatively peripheral; at best a process-ishish.
But it’s there in helter-skelter, pitter-patter and in yoyo
But for me the nitty-gritty’s it’s not tip-top, it’s a no-no!
Enough, enough, I say. I say enough! Enough, I say!
(Forgive me; with reduplication I get carried away.)
We hope we answered Juju with a full, complete response:
A Letter to the Editors get a good reply for once!
So we hope you’re happy, Juju, or even happy-happy,
That we’ve done reduplication and feel snappy, dancing tappy.
So that’s the ‘what’ of redup; but we could ask: why-oh-why?
But that’s another time, I think. For now: farewell, bye-bye!
1 Aka Ode to Reduplication.