Insights into the Semantics of Reduplication in English and Arabic

  •  Khaled Mohammed Moqbel Al-Asbahi    


The paper aims to describe and compare the semantics of reduplication in English and Arabic. The paper shows more semantic similarities in reduplication than differences between both languages; although, Arabic reduplication is noted to be semantically more productive than English reduplication. Both languages divide reduplication into full/partial, free/bound, and continuous/discontinuous. Moreover, both languages share the senses of reduplication like; repetition, emphasis, intensity, onomatopoeia, contempt, affection, plurality, non-uniformity, and instability, nonsense, spread out, scatter, movement, contrast, continuity, completion, and lack of control. The semantic connection was developed between most of these concepts, which showed that ambiguity was common between both languages. Both the languages used reduplication in the nursery rhymes, lyrics, games, prayers, second language teaching, children’s phonics cartoons, advertisements, tongue twisters, slogans, newspaper headlines, and political and ideological rhetoric. These similarities support the belief of some linguists stating that different languages in the world share a variety of ‘universal’ semantic features. The study concluded that Arabic reduplication was semantically more productive than English reduplication.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.