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  • Total reduplication: The areal linguistics of a potential universal by Thomas Stolz, Cornelia Stroh, and Aina Urdze
  • Anne Zribi-Hertz
Total reduplication: The areal linguistics of a potential universal. By Thomas Stolz, Cornelia Stroh, and Aina Urdze. (Studia typologica 8.) Bremen: Akademie, 2011. Pp. 620. ISBN 9783050051734. €128.

The project that led to this volume was triggered by previous research (Stolz 2004) revealing total reduplication (TR) as a characteristic feature of the Circum-Mediterranean area, shared by such genetically different languages as Turkish, Hebrew, Maltese, Greek, Italian, and Basque. This result turned out to be at odds with Rubino's (2005a,b) claim that TR is globally absent from Europe (with a few exceptions). Finding that TR is also attested in various other European languages, Thomas Stolz, Cornelia Stroh, and Aina Urdze (SS&U) decided to embark on a systematic areal study of TR on the Old Continent.

The general picture that emerges from their research is that TR is a phenomenon of its own, that TR-languages are, as a whole, the norm, and TR-avoiders the exception, and that contrary to Rubino's (2005a,b) claims, TR is a widespread phenomenon in Europe, with TR-languages located in the south and east, and TR-avoiders in the north and center. European TR-constructions are shown to share the formal and semantic properties of the TR-constructions found in countries bordering Europe to the east and south. This areal distribution suggests that European TR-languages are part of larger, intercontinental isoglosses.

The book is subdivided into four parts. Part A, 'How to approach total reduplication', is a general advanced course on reduplication, which after a brief introduction (section 1) surveys (section 2) contemporary general textbooks and specialized literature on the chosen topic, and proposes an explicit definition of TR: a prototypical instance is characterized as involving two identical, complete, adjacent occurrences of a meaningful expression, whose doubling conveys some specific linguistic function. The identity criterion crucially involves both phonological and categorial identity (this excludes cognate objects from TR, for example). TR is distinguished from partial reduplication (where completeness does not obtain) and from repetition (a mere, unrestricted, stylistic device). TR is also distinguished from the accidental adjacency of two identical words brought about by syntactic recursivity. Section 3, 'History', surveys theories of reduplication since the beginning of the nineteenth century. Section 4, 'Universal vs. areal', discusses the universal character of TR assumed by Moravcsik (1978) and introduces the view that TR is a 'potential' rather than 'absolute' universal. Section 5 discusses the linguistic functions of TR (e.g. intensification, diminution, number, distributivity, reciprocity, indefiniteness), their respective statuses with respect to the grammar vs. discourse dichotomy, and the issue of iconicity (here the authors adopt Stolz's (2007) model, according to which TR generally signals a deviation with respect to some norm). [End Page 375]

Part B, 'Total reduplication: The Maltese experience', presents a detailed description of TR in Maltese, based on an array of written corpora. TR in this language is shown to target adjectives, adverbs, verbs (finite or nonfinite, mostly imperfective and intransitive), and cardinals. The functions of TR are claimed to include intensification, absoluteness, secondary predication, adverbialization, duration, the prolative, the distributive, and lexicalization.

Part C, 'Total reduplication: The European perspective', presents an in-depth areal study of European languages with respect to TR, which disconfirms Rubino's (2005a,b) claim that Europe is the only region of the globe that is practically TR-free. According to Rubino, the only TR-languages of Europe are Abkhaz, Armenian, Georgian, Hungarian, and Turkish. SS&U lay out their quantitative methodology, centrally based on the comparative scrutiny of multilingual translations of Saint-Exupéry's Petit prince and J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the philosopher's stone.

Quantitative results show that TR is productively attested in Europe not only in the five languages acknowledged by Rubino, but also in many others. Within Europe, TR is less frequent in Indo-European than in non-Indo-European languages. However, neither Indo-European nor non-Indo-European languages behave homogeneously with respect to TR. Some Indo-European languages are TR-avoiders (e.g. Germanic, Slavic), while some have productive...


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