Tuesday, February 23, 2010

An ITSY-BITSY information

I could not follow a word of his speech, it was all mumbo-jumbo

The shelves were filled with purse, needles, pins and other such knick-knacks.

These are simple sentences we use in our day to day life. Whats special about them you may ask. Nothing much, except for these playful phrases - kinck-knacks, mumbo-jumbo.....

The pleasure we get by playing around with words, in turn coining new phrases as words. That's how a language is enriched. Same with English. It has evolved so much, its never the same as it was.

Idioms, phrases, words are poetic when rhymed. In order to enhance the poem, one tends to use meaningless or irrelevant words as long as it fits in. But its not restricted to poems alone, we use it everyday.....from dilly-dallying at work.......to running helter-skelter trying to cross the crowded street.

Repeating parts of words to make new words is called REDUPLICATION. They are coined for nothing more than the enjoyment of wordplay. The words making up these idioms have no meaning in themselves. They have an effect only when combined. Also, only one word from that word pair does have some meaning and pre-exists. The other pair is added to just enhance the effect.

E.g chit-chat.
Chat itself is diminutive form of chatter. 'Chit' in itself is meaningless.

There are different types of Reduplication.

Exact - These are used as baby talk to make young kids understand and learn the language. Idioms like

Rhyming - They are just like Cockney rhyming slang, where normal words are replaced by rhyming words. Few idioms here.

Ablaut - Suggest motion, like it is 'this' now and 'that' later. Words like

The above phrases ; if observed has 'i' in the first word and an 'a' or an 'o' in the second word. Does anybody have any idea why? If so, please enlighten me.

Second observation is that ABLAUT REDUPLICATION are sometimes ONOMATOPOEIC
onomatopoeia are words that sound like the objects they name or the sounds those objects make).

The room was so silent that I could hear the TICK-TOCK of the clock - Perfect example of a phrase which is both ablaut reduplicated and also onomatopoeic.

Another one, a famous rhyme!! Now stand up and sing along people!!......with actions............

I hear thunder, I hear thunder,
Oh. don't you?
Oh. don't you ?
Pitter Patter raindrops,
Pitter Patter raindrops
I'm wet through, I/m wet through.

To enjoy a onomatopoeic story - please click here -A CRACKLING story. Don't ever miss this piece; I am telling this for your own benefits :-D

And as usual, I was discussing reduplication with Gautam. We brought in few more phrases in Hindi.

table-vable saaf karo
chai-vaai pilao

But these phrases don't seem to be reduplication. Why because the complete word is just paired with totally incomprehensible word just for the flow of sentence; and they don't actually form a new meaning in itself; unlike the reduplicated words.

I hope you all enjoyed this itsy-bitsy information. Now enough of my mumbo-jumbo, I am off to play see-saw!!



  1. you got lots of Time-Wime on Hand-Shand to do such observation. Koi Kaam-Waam nahin hai kya.

    he he he

    It was a Fantabulos, article-sharticle

    and yes loved the itsy-bitsy, Teeny-Weeny, article -sharticle

  2. I can't spend much time-shime for comments-shumments as my house is being painted-shainted and the Deewar-Sheewar are all dirty shirty.
    After khaana shaana today will I comment shumment.
    A very nice post-wost,keep it up.

  3. :)

    you love this I guess. Interesting to know.

    Keep smiling.

  4. arre wah rhyming shyming post-vost likhti ho...ekdum fundoo tha :)

  5. Excellent post. Loved reading it.

    I am reminded of another "exact" word repeated.

    What do you do for a living?

    Oh, from time to time, I sell wall to wall carpet in Walla Walla, Washington.

  6. observation at its best - once again!!

    next time; we will have a group chat; as you and Gautam speak about so many interesting topics all the time..so invite me ok :)

  7. Oops. It should be: From time to time, I sell door to door, wall to wall carpet in Walla Walla, Washington.

  8. I like to play with words n often create my own vocab n new words. Its fun at times.

  9. your itsy bitsy information absolute fun... thats a tough term ... didnt know these words have name too...
    very informative :D

  10. good observation
    khatta- mittha article

  11. I didn't know there was a term to it..Thank you ma`am for enlightening us all!

    "SUPER-DUPER" Post!!!:-))

  12. Bikram,

    NO!! I dont have lots of time-wime. Thats why that post is coming after 6 days.
    Bahut kaam-waam hai na!!

    Thank you, glad you liked it

  13. Chowla sir,

    Hahahaha...You said you cant comment0shumments, but its there!!
    Glad, thanks a lot.

  14. Makk,

    Yeah I love playing with words. :-)

  15. Gayathri,

    Acha sa post-vost likna tha...:-)

  16. Hi SG,

    Thank you for sharing that sentence. But is that reduplication?

  17. Thanks a lot Neha. Naaah!! No observation here.
    Just curiosity!!

    Curious to know what was the grammar term for these paired words. :-)
    Group chat? Hehehehe this time I pulled Gautam from his busy schedule and asked if he knew reduplication?

    And yes, does gtalk allow conference chats? We can sure discuss :-D

  18. Hi shas,

    Hmm..you do that!1 Yes it is fun creating new words

  19. Hi Rajlakshmi,

    I didnt know it either too. But I knew it must have a name and hence did some learning!! Glad you liked it

  20. sm,

    Thanks a lot for the khatta-meetha comment :-)

  21. Hi lostworld,

    Thanks a lot. We learnt something new, isnt it? :-)

  22. some words are so common..shaadi waadi..haathwaath:)

  23. Just loved it. especially the Hindi ones, table-vable, pet-vet....:)

  24. Samvedna,

    Yes it is!! And we dont realize :-)

  25. Holy Lama,

    Err... thank you :-) My pleasure as always

  26. Hi!

    I guess, I anyway talk and type so much that I cannot afford to indulge in "onomatopoeic reverberations"! Or whatever it is! :P

    Your post was very informative. Reading it made me aware of my aversion for using such words. Seriously! Before reading your post I had never realized that I used to have a dislike for such words. I don't know why. Maybe, because this manner of communicating represents a certain kind of redundancy without adding any value. Probably, of all the pairings you enlisted, I only use "chit-chat" with any regularity.

    Also, I guess, the Hindi pairs are similar to some of the pairs you listed under 'rhyming', especially 'okey-dokey', which (probably) derives from 'okay' and has similar meaning, as in 'just about alright' or 'so-so'.

    There are a few Hindi pairings, though, which do together and both words have meanings, like - "aachaar-vichaar", "manan-chintan", "bhakti-shakti".

    Also, if you might notice there is a fundamental difference in attitudes between how Indians use such pairings (except for the Hindi ones I pointed out). We use such pairings to indicate our disdain or irreverence or to trivialize the subject.

    I mean, which girl will say "yes" if the Hero were to tell her - "main tum se pyaar-vyaar karataa hoon" or "tum-shum mujh se shaadi-vaadi karogi?"? ;)

    Examples of trivialization would be "keede-makode" and "kutte-billi".

    However, in English such attempts (repetitions) are either merely for phonetic-effect or to lighten the reduce the seriousness of an issue (short of trivializing).

    I am no expert, but after thinking a bit about the "a" and "i" pairing as in chit-chat, I think it serves two purposes:

    1. It's a kind of phonetic surprise. For example, one would expect 'chit' to be followed by something like 'bit' because they rhyme perfectly, so when one hears chat instead of chit, one gets surprised and pays greater attention. I mean, this is very fundamental human psychology of wanting attention, especially while talking. :) Of course, now we've got so used to hearing "chit-chat" that it would no longer surprise us, but still probably succeeds in drawing our attention.

    2. This pairing also sounds more complete. All the vowels like 'a', 'ai', 'aa', 'ae', 'o' etc. sound hard or masculine, whereas 'i', 'ee', 'u', 'oo' sound soft or feminine. So when paired together they complement (not compliment ;) ) each other, and sound 'made-for-each-other'. :) ...

  27. ...If you find time, do go through the entry of 'schizotypal personality disorder' in this blog post:


    You'll find a very weird kind of repetition there, but with a 'scientific' reason! ;)

    Also, when was the last you commented on my main blog? :P

    My last three blog posts have been all typed from PC, and might interest you, especially the latest one - 'Error of judgment and Judgment of Errors'. If you find time, I would like your comment there.

    And lastly, I must say this was very well investigated topic, and am thankful because what you wrote on made me aware of one more thing about myself (hitherto unknown dislike for such repetitions), which might have made me prejudiced against using language in that manner. Now that I'm aware of this possible prejudice, I would try to guard myself against it.

    So, thanks and take care. :)

  28. Dear Insignia,

    Areh...Bapreh... What you have posted is very information and an opportunity to know more funny...gunny words. Also your cracling story is reality in everyones life.

    You are cre..ative and gri..ative

    Best of luck.

  29. Hi Ketan,

    Yeah yeah!! You go overboard, don't you? :-D

    I am really really short of words when you say my posts do help you in self-realization and self-discovery.
    you likes, your aversions are crystal clear :-)

    I am with you, I don't like to use these type of words in written or spoken form of communication. I do use "dilly-dally" quite few times, and those few times, I am very sure the opposite party doesn't understand what the word means. Uummmppphhh!!

    I agree to your take on using such words to trivialize the subject. Absolutely!! it is.
    In English too, there are lot such words that are invented for the sake of having fun!!

    E.g. Heebie-jeebies; was coined during first world war. The meaning is 'to feel apprehensive'. But does it even closely relate? Maybe people wanted a way out and have fun in tough times!!

    Thanks much for your explanation on 'i' and the 'o/a' pairing. It makes sense :-)

    And oh yes!! its been a while since I read your posts, I am not finding time is false; if i said so. Iam not finding private time to just read only your posts. I end up multi-tasking. And I sincerely believe it requires more than normal brain and intellectuality to be reading your views, as they are all above and way too beyond normal thought process. I am not finding that dedicated time to comprehend. By the way, this is a compliment and not complement obviously!! :-P

    I would sure read them all

    And yes I hope my posts would be a catalyst to re-invent your likes and dislikes in future too :-)

    Take care

  30. Naidu sir,

    Thanks so much. I am very glad that this post enlightened you with some new information.
    Oh you read THE CRACKLING story too? So sweet. Yes, its happens with all of us and we are not aware such words have a term.

    Thanks again

  31. Ha ha. Good one yaar. Nice that you related Onomatopoeia in this post. Nice to see that my dad is following your blog. Orreee phamily peeelingz. ha ha. :-)

  32. Thanks Gautam. While I was writing this post, I discovered that few words were onomatopoeic too....Thus put it up upfront. Yes!! your dad is following my blog and feels really happy :-)

  33. Haha.. :D Wonderful observation.
    I wonder how and from where these things come from. Nevertheless, they make language more beautiful and interesting.
    Superb post! :)

  34. Karthik,

    Yeah!!! these kinda things pops up when jobless people like you and me think of something new :-P

    Thank you


I'd love to know what you thought :-) Please shoot!