Reduplicated words or Echo Words in Bengali and other languages

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#1 Nov 27th, 2011, 17:14
It's all Greek to me, but Benglish will do
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#1
Recently I have been compiling a list of "Reduplications" (the linguistic term) or "Echo Words", which are very often onomatopeia as well, and are a lot of fun. The Bengali language is chock-a-block full of them. Words like phit-phat, phata-phati, ghup-ghap, gajar-majar, chit-chat, thik-thak, mit-mat, tapur-tupur, ulat-palat, tuki-taki, tok-tok, thok-thok, tek-tek, to-to, tol-tol, tol-mol, tosh-tosh, tay-tay, tog-bog, khit-khit, bokor-bokor, bhon-bhon, min-min, thor-thor, thom-thome, jhok-jhok, paen-paen, thol-thol, thom-thom, miti-miti, chepe-chupe, phosti-nasti, toch-noch, tal-matal, chat-pat, kata-kuti, chal-chal, cip-cip, abol-tabol, bhethor-shethor, cholte-cholte, aste-aste, dhire-dhire, bhalo-bhalo, sada-sada, chhoto-chhoto, cha-ta, pan-tan, kaj-taj, pani-tani. And the list goes on and on.... cholche-cholbe......

In English we have itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, hoi-polloi (that one is Greek actually), knick-knack, mish-mash, flip-flop, tip-top, easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy, helter-skelter, boogie-woogie, shim-sham, flim-flam, Georgie-Porgie,

In French there are ple-mle (means "at random"), tic-tac (it's a kind of hard-boiled mint sweet), bric-a-brac (also used in English, meaning "odds and ends of household furnishings").

Hindi also has its fair share of such words. Tamil has a lot of them, as does Kannada. They are very widespread in Chinese, Farsi, Japanese, Khmer, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese, aboriginal languages, and many many more.

Just a couple more taken at random: hulu-mulu (Farsi for "peaches and such"); fatafit (Palestinian Arabic for "crumbs"); misk-mask
(Danish for "a disorganized jumble") and schelle-belle (Dutch for an "overly independent young woman"!).

Sometimes these echo words are expressing poetically the sound of rain falling (as in "tapur-tupur", used in tagore's poetry to express "pitter-patter" of raindrops).

Sometimes they are used to express continuity, for example, kit-kit in Hindi (apparently it means "a monotonous droning").

Sometimes they are used to express "cuteness" or show affection; sometimes they are used for emphasis; sometimes for expressing "contempt" (as in clap-trap* or mik-mak** or layfen-shmayfen***..... )

* nonsense in English
**worthless in Dutch
*** not worth running after in Yiddish

Tagore goes as far as making his own up: kinkini-ranrani (the sound made by the jingling of ankle-bells).

In fact, according to an article I read yesterday, Tagore has compiled an extensive list of these words, which he has dubbed "sound-soul-words" or dhvanatmak-sabda. So far I have not been able to locate his list!
Last edited by theyyamdancer; Nov 28th, 2011 at 18:55.. Reason: typo
#2 Nov 27th, 2011, 18:46
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#2
Interesting thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by theyyamdancer View Post and schelle-belle (Dutch for an "overly independent young woman"!).
Never heard of that one before; could be in some dialect, or perhaps in a distant past. I find (minus the hyphen) it's a village in Belgium We have lellebel = a floozy, sort of.

Quote:
or mik-mak**
**worthless in Dutch
Hm, yes, tricky word to explain. More used like as in "the whole shebang" (de hele mikmak). Not sure about its origins; interesting question. Synonymous would be de hele rimram, de hele rataplan, de hele reutemeteut (or just: de hele reut), and such. (The whole [kit and] caboodle btw, another such nice one in English ) Our Madam Mikmak incidentally is your Disney's Madam Mim. (I guess btw it may have been inspired by the North American indigenous people of the Micmac, or Mikmaq?)

Keep in mind in some Asian languages it's just used to form the plural: I believe in Indonesian (and in Hindi, I think? Though perhaps not the plural) a hat is topi, two or more hats is topi-topi. Probably akin to your "used to express continuity."
#3 Nov 27th, 2011, 22:01
It's all Greek to me, but Benglish will do
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Mach, my knowledge of Dutch is non-existent! I found those Dutch words on a linguistic paper online, as you have probably guessed.

I am now giving the meanings of some of the Bengali "echo words", to the best of my ability and in the hope that any errors will eventually be corrected by other IndiaMikers!

phit-phat ফিট-ফাট = spick and span
phata-phati ফাটা-ফাটি = wonderful
ghup-ghap ঘুপ-ঘাপ = with a thud
chit-chat ছিট-ছাট = oddments
thik-thak ঠিক-ঠাক = correctly
mit-mat মিট-মাট = compromise
tapur-tupur ঠাপুর-ঠুপুর = pitter-patter
ulat-palat উলাট-পালাট = helter-skelter
tuki-taki টুকি-টাকি = tidbits, odds and ends
tok-tok তক্-তক্ = sparkling clean
Tok-Tok টক্-টক্ = brilliance
thok-thok ঠক্-ঠক্ = splashed
tek-tek টেক-টেক = expressing the state of being outspoken; act of bragging/boasting/nagging
to-to টো-টো = expressing continuous or frequent wandering without any aim
tol-tol টল-টল = expressing crystal clearness
tol-mol টল-মল = expressing restlessness or agitation; being on the verge of tumbling
tosh-tosh টস-টস = expressing the sound of repeated falling drops of liquid
tay-tay টায়-টায় = just sufficient ; barely
tog-bog টগ-বগ = bubbling noise of liquid boiling ; seething with anger

bokor-bokor বকর-বকর = chattering

thom-thom থম-থম = dreadful depth ; silence ; darkness


.../... to be continued
#4 Nov 28th, 2011, 03:33
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#4
What a huge and splendid lot of work! You don't suppose, though, that you might find some more profitable way to occupy your time? You could, for example, become a mod at IM – I understand that's busybusy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by theyyamdancer View Post ...hoi-polloi (that one is Greek actually)...
Which said, where do you come down on the use of the English article "the" with hoi polloi? Considering that hoi, as I understand it, means "the," is the "the" in "the hoi polloi" not just a redundancy upon a reduplication?

Needless to say, it is my forte to have a stick up my linguistic fundamentals, so I prissily disdain to "the" any hoi polloi whom I encounter. Curious to know what you think, though.

Won't even raise the issue of whether an honest article with a perfectly ordinary noun that happens to sound the same should really be counted as a reduplication in the same category as itsy-bitsy and teeny-weeny. Nor will I suggest that you might consider updating either your music or your swimwear.

And I wouldn't for a moment think of asking why on earth you've taken on this magnum opus.
#5 Nov 28th, 2011, 04:19
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#5
Is this all hocus pocus?
#6 Nov 28th, 2011, 06:38
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The first Hindi example that comes to mind is married, शादीशुदा [shaadiishudaa]. There are probably many more.

Yiddish can express irony, derision or scepticism by, as in the OP, repeating a word with schm- substituted for the initial.

From Shm-reduplication
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiki He's just a baby!
Baby-shmaby. He's already 5 years old!
Yes, mach, Indonesian. I especially like the way they can write it: orang "person", orang-orang or orang2 "people".

Similarly in Chinese: 人 rn for "person", 人人 rnrn for "everybody". Other uses change the single word's meaning to be more extended, intense or softened. 看 kn 'look', 看看 or 看一看 knyikn 'take a (quick) look'. The most common reduplication must be 谢谢 (xixie) – thanks. And you don't say just "Come in" but 请进, 请进 qǐngjn, qǐngjn.

Japanese also has many examples, and like Indonesian a time-saving mark for the reduplication: 時 toki "time", tokidoki 時々. Note the consonant change in the second instance, but it's still regarded as a true reduplication.
#7 Nov 28th, 2011, 13:20
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#7
Quote:
Originally Posted by hfot2 View Post What a huge and splendid lot of work! You don't suppose, though, that you might find some more profitable way to occupy your time? You could, for example, become a mod at IM I understand that's busybusy.



Which said, where do you come down on the use of the English article "the" with hoi polloi? Considering that hoi, as I understand it, means "the," is the "the" in "the hoi polloi" not just a redundancy upon a reduplication?

Needless to say, it is my forte to have a stick up my linguistic fundamentals, so I prissily disdain to "the" any hoi polloi whom I encounter. Curious to know what you think, though.

Won't even raise the issue of whether an honest article with a perfectly ordinary noun that happens to sound the same should really be counted as a reduplication in the same category as itsy-bitsy and teeny-weeny. Nor will I suggest that you might consider updating either your music or your swimwear.

And I wouldn't for a moment think of asking why on earth you've taken on this magnum opus.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick-H View Post Is this all hocus pocus?

To answer hfot2, I have been interested in these kinds of word ever since I first heard of them a couple of years ago. It may seem a waste of good time (which could be put to better use in googling photograph lookalikes ), but you may say that is hocus pocus or mumbo jumbo or clap trap!

As for the serious business of "The hoi polloi", in Greek it is οί πολλοί , which became mysteriously transliterated into "hoi polloi" by 'scholars' in England...

You are correct that "oi" means "the". So 'the' is redundant. I was about to write "the 'the' is redundant" !
#8 Nov 28th, 2011, 18:55
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#8
Now I am continuing with the translations of some of the Bengali echo words mentioned yesterday in my first post in this thread, hoping someone finds this as fascinating as I do!

(There are a couple for which I have not yet found translations.)

jhok-jhok ঝক্-ঝক্ = shining
paen-paen প্যান্-প্যান্ = nagging, whining
thol-thol থল-থল = flabby
miti-miti মিটিমিটি = (i) twinkling; (ii) blinking; (iii) dim; (iv) hypocritical
chepe-chupe চেপে-চুপে = quietly
phosti-nasti ফষ্টি-নাষ্টি = joking
toch-noch তচনচ = ruined
tal-matal টাল-মাটাল = dilly-dallying
chat-pat চাট-পাট = quickly
katatkuti কাটাকুটি = cutting out / collage
abol tabol আবোল-তাবোল = topsy-turvy ; (and by extension) nonsense rhyme (as in the famous Abol Tabol by Sukumar Ray)
bhethor shethor ভেঠোর-সেঠোর = insignificant

aste aste আস্তে আস্তে = slowly
dhire dhire ধীরে ধীরে = slowly

and here's another one for a bonus:
bhoj-bhaji ভোজবাজি = hocus-pocus
#9 Nov 28th, 2011, 21:17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theyyamdancer View Post ...You are correct...
Ah, how rarely I hear that!

Thanks for the explanation of your interest in reduplication.

Now can you help me out with lemon-squeezy. It doesn't sound reduplicative, and I've never heard anyone say it. Closest I can recall is an old blues song about rolling and squeezing lemons, which is too fraught with double entendres of a prurient sort to warrant posting on a family-friendly site like IM.

(Thanks also for the dee-leet. I have the most extraordinary talent for using my mouth to shoot myself in the foot. Sorta sorry to lose snarky, though.)
#10 Nov 28th, 2011, 21:21
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#10
lemon squeezy
is part of the expression "easy peasy lemon squeezy"
used by 'young people' !

I have heard it used by my nieces a lot. So it is current Brit slang.

I probably did not furnish you with an adequate explanation of my curiosity about these words; it is part of my fascination with the Bengali language.
#11 Nov 28th, 2011, 21:59
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#11
On the English language and its weird expressions of course, one resource that can't be beaten would be Michael Quinion's WorldWideWords, http://www.worldwidewords.org/. "[Easy peasy] lemon squeezy" however he doesn't seem to comment on. (I've known him to answer your queries if he can, btw.)

Thanks also to Lugubert for feedback. I think (and by way of pedantry) duplicate words used to form the plural must really be excluded here, it's not the same mechanism.

Quote:
Originally Posted by theyyamdancer View Post Mach, my knowledge of Dutch is non-existent! I found those Dutch words on a linguistic paper online, as you have probably guessed.
Aha; do you have the link to it? I'd be curious to know what other unlikelihoods are on it.

(A friend of mine has worked for years as a proofreader/editor, and a darn good one at that, handling a lot of material by Dutch academics who think they know English, which of course has become sort of the lingua franca in those circles. I've seen some such work and/or handled it myself, don't get me started. Then some time ago he gets sacked by that company, for being "too precise," LOL. Some of those academics apparently sure don't like getting corrected.

Oh well. 'Tis an unfair world, I guess.

Anyway so I'd be interested to see what those linguists came up with, whether Dutch or English-speaking in origin, or other yet altogether.)
#12 Nov 28th, 2011, 22:01
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#12
Mach,
I will PM it to you, since I had to download it.
#13 Nov 28th, 2011, 22:07
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#13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lugubert View Post The first Hindi example that comes to mind is married, शादीशुदा [shaadiishudaa]. There are probably many more.

Yiddish can express irony, derision or scepticism by, as in the OP, repeating a word with schm- substituted for the initial.

From Shm-reduplication


Yes, mach, Indonesian. I especially like the way they can write it: orang "person", orang-orang or orang2 "people".

Similarly in Chinese: 人 rn for "person", 人人 rnrn for "everybody". Other uses change the single word's meaning to be more extended, intense or softened. 看 kn 'look', 看看 or 看一看 knyikn 'take a (quick) look'. The most common reduplication must be 谢谢 (xixie) thanks. And you don't say just "Come in" but 请进, 请进 qǐngjn, qǐngjn.

Japanese also has many examples, and like Indonesian a time-saving mark for the reduplication: 時 toki "time", tokidoki 時々. Note the consonant change in the second instance, but it's still regarded as a true reduplication.

Brilliant!
#14 Nov 28th, 2011, 22:52
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#14
Quote:
Originally Posted by theyyamdancer View Post lemon squeezy
is part of the expression "easy peasy lemon squeezy"
used by 'young people' !

I have heard it used by my nieces a lot. So it is current Brit slang.

I probably did not furnish you with an adequate explanation of my curiosity about these words; it is part of my fascination with the Bengali language.
Aha! Now I get it!*

[*This response is a subset of the set of responses under the heading Where the Hell Did I Leave Those Damn Semi-colons?]
#15 Nov 29th, 2011, 14:37
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#15
Phata Phati thread TD !
I did not fully understand the dread term "Terminal Illness" until I saw Terminal 1 D of Delhi Airport.
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