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This study of reduplication in Afrikaans provides a unified and principled analysis of an unusual and highly complex word formation process, shedding new light on the scope and content of various fundamental lexicalist principles of word formation. Surprisingly, Rudolf Botha concludes that the principles involved in Afrikaans reduplication are not unique to Afrikaans, as has often been thought, and are used by many other languages. Moreover, the interpretation of Afrikaans reduplications depends on principles of conceptual structure that are restricted neither to Afrikaans nor to the interpretation of reduplications, thus supporting recent work on cognition and meaning undertaken by Ray Jackendoff and other scholars. In analysing the data, Professor Botha has also provided a concrete illustration of how the Galilean style of linguistic inquiry can fruitfully be applied in the study of word formation and meaning. The study thus represents an important theoretical and methodological advance which will be of as much interest for its method of inquiry and argumentation as for the fresh insights it provides for scholars and researchers in the fields of morphology, word formation and semantics.
As was noted in Chapter 1 above, Afrikaans reduplications are held in conventional analyses to be highly complex from the semantic point of view. That is, they are held to express a large set of often diverse “meanings” even though they are all built on a single formal pattern. Accordingly the process of Afrikaans reduplication is likewise taken to be a phenomenon of great semantic complexity. The present analysis, however, will claim that this semantic complexity is apparent rather than real and that all Afrikaans reduplications undergo one and the same semantic interpretation rule, namely (1).
(1) Interpret [∝i∝i] as [A INCREASED]
(where A represents the sense or meaning of ∝ and INCREASED represents an abstract semantic unit)
With the specifics of the interpretation rule (1) I will deal below. All that needs to be noted at this point is that rule (1), formulated in the spirit of the Galilean style, is strongly unifying in that it applies to all reduplications. And it is quite simple as well. The central question to be answered is how so simple a rule is able to account for the diversity in and specificity of the meanings conventionally attributed to Afrikaans reduplications. It is to this question that the present chapter will address itself.
The general thesis that will be argued is that both the diversity of the meanings associated with Afrikaans reduplications and the specificity of these meanings are a function of the interaction between the interpretation rule (1) and semantic and or general conceptual devices that are independent of it.
This study is ultimately concerned with the way in which morphological form, semantic interpretation, and conceptual structure interlink in the domain of word formation. It pursues this concern by analyzing Afrikaans reduplication in the Galilean style. To proceed in this way requires the ultimate concern to be broken down into three concerns of a more immediate and specific sort: a grammatical, a general linguistic, and a metascientific one.
The grammatical or language-specific concern of this study is with the form and meaning of Afrikaans reduplications. Reduplication in Afrikaans has conventionally been taken to be a process that forms expressions such as those underscored in (1)(a)–(k).
(a) Die kinders drink bottels–bottels limonade. the children drink bottles bottles lemonade “The children drink bottles and bottles of lemonade.”
(b) Hulle speel weer bal – bal. they play again ball ball “They are playing their ball game again.”
(c) Die pad was ent – ent sleg. the road was stretch stretch bad “The road was bad in some (scattered) stretches.”
(d) Sy kruk – kruk stadig oor die woelige straat. she crutch crutch slowly across the busy street “She moves slowly on her crutches across the busy street.”
(e) Die dokter vat – vat aan die swelsel. the doctor touch touch on the swelling “The doctor tentatively feels the swelling a couple of times.”
(f) Die leeu loop brul–brul weg. the lion walk roar roar away “Roaring repeatedly, the lion walks away.”
(g) Hulle eet dik – dik snye brood, they eat thick thick slices bread “They eat thumping thick slices of bread.”
This chapter provides further clarification of the manner in which the proposed theories of the formation and interpretation of Afrikaans reduplications are linked. The formation rule (2) of $2.1 copies all nouns (including cardinals), verbs, adjectives and adverbs, subject to the general constraints presented in Chapter 2 above. To each reduplication formed by this rule, the interpretation rule (1) of 3.1 assigns the semantic unit [INCREASED A]. This semantic unit is developed further by the conceptualization rules proposed in Chapter 3 above.
Note that the formation rule and the interpretation rule jointly generate a large number of reduplications that are unacceptable to native speakers. A significant subset of these unacceptable reduplications, being conceptually ill-formed, are filtered out by the conceptualization rules. That is, a subset of the reduplications generated jointly by the formation and interpretation rules are formally well-formed, but are unacceptable because the concepts corresponding to them are characterized as ill-formed by the conceptualization rules. The projected referents of such reduplications cannot be conceptualized in a coherent manner on these rules.
A few examples may serve to illustrate the filtering function of the conceptualization rules.
(a) *Hy woon in Parys–Parys. he live in Paris Paris “*He is living in a number of Parises.”
(b) *Sorg–sorg is hier nodig. care care is here required “*Scattered care is required here.”
(c) *Hy woon–woon in Parys. he live live in Paris “*He continually lives in Paris.”
The metascientific concern of this study has been to provide an illustration of the heuristic power of the Galilean style. Specifically, this concern has been with showing that this mode of inquiry may be profitably used to pursue depth of insight in less well researched areas, such as morphology and semantics, too. Given the characterization of this style presented in Chapter 1, the proposed analyses of the formation and interpretation of Afrikaans reduplications are clearly Galilean in nature. These analyses are Galilean in essentially two, complementary, respects: in their pursuit of theoretical unification, and in their treatment of data or “facts” that appear to pose a threat to unifying principles.
Consider first the manner in which the analyses illustrate the Galilean pursuit of depth of understanding through theoretical unification. Both the analysis of the formation and that of the interpretation of Afrikaans reduplications yielded strongly unifying theories. The theory of formation derives its unifying power from the single formation rule formulated as (2) in Chapter 2 and the various general constraints to which this rule was made subject. As regards the formation rule, it says in effect that all Afrikaans reduplications are formed in the same way, regardless of the lexical category to which these reduplications and their bases belong. To postulate only one formation rule for all Afrikaans reduplications is to say that from the point of view of their formation, these forms manifest a unitary phenomenon. As noted above, the general constraints placed on this rule constitute the second source of unifying power of the theory of formation.
To account for the formal properties of Afrikaans reduplications the theory to be developed below has to express the following generalization:
Afrikaans reduplications are words formed by the copying of words.
This generalization may be expressed by means of two hypotheses: the rule stated informally in (2)(a) – or less informally in (2)(b) – and the status specification in (3).
(a) Copy ∝
(b) ∝i → [∝i∝i]
(2) is a word formation rule
It will be argued below that, if the formation rule (2) is applied in conjunction with other, independently motivated rules of Afrikaans grammar and if, moreover, it is made subject to certain independently motivated general linguistic conditions, only a minimum of additional language-specific assumptions are needed to account for the formal properties of Afrikaans reduplications. Moreover, if word formation rules (or WFRs) are formally distinct from other formation rules, then (3) need not be stipulated as a separate claim in the grammar of Afrikaans.
The justification for the theory of the formation of Afrikaans reduplications to be presented in subsequent paragraphs has two basic components, each complementary to the other. On the one hand this theory has a highly desirable conceptual property: it provides insight into what appears to be a be wilderingly complex phenomenon by reducing its apparent complexity to a minimal number of hypotheses that are both simple and general. In achieving this reduction, the theory gains considerably in unifying power. On the other hand the theory has highly desirable empirical credentials: it implies correct consequences.