Article published In:Review of Cognitive Linguistics: Online-First Articles
Gradience in iconicity
Evidence from total reduplicative constructions in Nigerian Pidgin
While it has largely been taken for granted by most linguists that the relationship between linguistic signifier and signified is arbitrary in nature, a growing number of studies suggest otherwise. In this article, we demonstrate that iconicity in total reduplicative constructions in Nigerian Pidgin is graded in nature, and that the degree of iconicity of any given reduplicative is largely correlated with the word class to which its simplex form belongs, with reduplicated ideophones and adverbials exhibiting the highest degree of iconicity, reduplicated pronouns the lowest degree of iconicity, and reduplicated adjectives, nouns, numerals and verbs intermediate degrees of iconicity.Our results shed light, not only on which word classes are more prototypically involved in reduplication than others in the world’s languages, but also on typical pathways that reduplicatives follow in processes of grammaticalization, whereby their isomorphic form-meaning relationship appears increasingly attenuated, albeit due to varying language-internal factors that are specific to individual languages.
- 3.Total reduplication and related phenomena
- 3.1Frozen reduplication
- 3.2Stylistic repetition
- 4.Total reduplication in Nigerian Pidgin
- 5.Deviations from prototypically isomorphic iconicity related to total reduplication in Nigerian Pidgin
- 5.1Reduplication of pronouns
- 5.2Reduplication of verbs
- 5.3Other isolated cases of non-iconic reduplication
- 6.Discussion and conclusion
- The abbreviations used in the glosses for the examples in this work include the following
Published online: 26 May 2023
Akinmade, T. A., & Salami, O.
(2015) Ideophones and reduplication: Depiction, description, and the interpretation of repeated talk in discourse. Studies in Language, 39 (4), 946–970.
Elugbe, B., & Omamor, A.
(2017) Iconic treadmill hypothesis: The reasons behind continuous onomatopoeic coinage. In M. Bauer, A. Zirker, O. Fisher & C. Ljungberg (Eds.), Dimensions of iconicity (pp. 15–38). Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
(2020) Pathways of de-iconization: How borrowing, semantic evolution and regular sound change obscure iconicity. In, P. Perniss, O. Fischer & C. Ljungberg (Eds.), Operationalizing iconicity (pp. 75–104). Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
(2007) Creole complexity and associational semantics. In L. Lim, S. Matthews & U. Ansaldo (Eds.), Deconstructing creoles (pp. 67–108). Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
(1985) Iconicity, isomorphism and non-arbitrary coding in syntax. In J. Haiman (Ed.), Iconicity in syntax (pp. 187–219). Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Greenberg, J. H.
Hammarström, H., Forkel, R., Haspelmath, M., & Bank, S.
(2022) Glottolog 4.6. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. (Available online at [URL], Accessed on 23-09-2022).
Kouwenberg, S., & LaCharité, D.
(2011) The typology of the Caribbean Creole reduplication. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages, 26 (1), 194–218.
(2015) Arbitrariness and iconicity in total reduplication. Evidence from Caribbean Creoles. Studies in Language, 39 (4), 971–991. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Occhino, C., Anible, B., Wilkinson, E., & Morford, J.
(2017) Iconicity is in the eye of the beholder: How language experience affects perceived iconicity. Gesture, 16 (1), 99–125.
Odiegwu, N. C.
Forthcoming). Radial representations of the semantics of reduplicative constructions in Nigerian Pidgin (Naija). Cognitive Semantics.
Peirce, C. S.
Perlman, M., & Cain, A. A.
(2014) Iconicity in vocalization, comparisons with gesture, and implications for theories on the evolution of language. Gesture, 14 (3), 320–350.
(2015) Two semantic patterns of reduplication. Iconicity revisited. Studies in language, 39 (4), 992–1018. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
(2007) Re: duplication. Iconic vs counter-iconic principles (and their areal correlates). In P. Ramat & E. Roma (Eds.), Studies in language companion series 88 (pp. 317–350). Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Stolz, T., & Levkovych, N.
Van Goethem, K., Norde, M., Coussé, E., & Vanderbauwhede, G.
(2018) Category change from a constructional perspective. Introduction. In K. Van Goethem, M. Norde, E. Coussé & G. Vanderbauwhede (Eds.), Category change from a constructional perspective (pp 3–8). Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Van Langendonck, W.
Voeltz, E. F. K., & Kilian–Hatz, C.
(Eds.) (2001) Ideophones. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Wa Thiong ´O, N.