Dilly-dally, wishy-washy [ reduplication ]

bmo

Senior Member
Taiwan
1. Dilly-dally, nitty-gritty, wishy-washy. Are these simply compound words or there is a special name for them grammatically?

2. Cease and desist, pros and cons, wax and wane, peak and volley. Are these simply co-locations or a special name for these as well?

Thanks a lot.
 
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    1. Dilly-dally, nitty-gritty, wishy-washy. Are these simply compound words or there is a special name for them grammatically?
    These are reduplicative words. Wiki has an article on Reduplication:
    Reduplication, in linguistics, is a morphological process by which the root or stem of a word, or only part of it, is repeated.
     

    icecreamsoldier

    Senior Member
    New Zealand English
    Hi bmo,

    This site suggests the terms binomial expressions (opposites: pros and cons, wax and wane, peak and volley; and synonyms: cease and desist, greetings and salutations etc.) and reduplicated forms (dilly-dally, nitty-gritty, wishy-washy). Both types are examples of clichés.
     
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    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    1. I call these reduplicative words or simply reduplicatives. And I love 'em! I once compiled a small dictionary of them ~ it got to something like 100-200 words; I was pretty amazed at just how many of them there are. Though some of them I would certainly classify as 'childish' (silly-billy, roly-poly), by far the majority of them are surprisingly 'neutral' or 'adult-themed' (pell-mell, nitty-gritty) and, in my opinion, nicely illustrate the inherent daftness (or 'playfulness') of English:):)

    "Wow, ewie, you writing a dissertation or something?"
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Here's another vote for "reduplicatives" for the dilly-dally type (I'd love to see ewie's dictionary:D).

    I hadn't heard of icecreamsoldier's binomial expressions.

    Am I alone in not being familiar with "peak and volley" - what does it mean?
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    No, I've never heard of peak and volley either, Loob. (The dictionary has long since ceased to exist, by the way.)
    I find (much less) interesting those weird little English phrases ~ often legalistic ~ which say the same thing twice: let or hindrance is the only one I can think of off-hand but there are others. (Well, BMO's cease and desist is another.)
     

    bmo

    Senior Member
    Taiwan
    Here's another vote for "reduplicatives" for the dilly-dally type (I'd love to see ewie's dictionary:D).

    I hadn't heard of icecreamsoldier's binomial expressions.

    Am I alone in not being familiar with "peak and volley" - what does it mean?

    It is peak and valley. I can't find binomial expressions in dictionaries either. Can they be collocations?
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Hi bmo,

    I found this in a paper on binomial expressions:
    In this paper, I will take a close look at binomial expressions, namely of the form noun+and+noun, verb+and+verb, and adjective+and+adjective. (J. Golenbock (2000) Binomial Expressions - Does Frequency Matter?)
    It appears that binomial expression is used in academic settings to refer to the sort of pairings you have listed. "Collocations" is, to my understanding, a more general term, but would include these. Which term you want to use depends on the context in which you are using it.

    Edit: I should add that icecreamsoldier is also right in post #3: this particular set of binomial expressions are also clichés.
     
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    bmo

    Senior Member
    Taiwan
    Thank you all, now I understand that collocation is something else (like high probability, not high chance). So there is such thing as binomial expressions, but they are cliche. I just heard wax and wane, which I did not know, the other day in radio.

    bmo
     

    mirla

    Senior Member
    Russia, Russian
    Hi!
    There is a serie of compound words in English like 'to flim-flam', 'to pitter-patter', 'riff-raff'. Are they just compound nouns/verbs or there is a special term to name them?
    Thank you!
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I would call them reduplicative, but there may be other names. They're not compounds, because in general the two halves don't both exist as independent words. 'Patter' means something like 'pitter-patter', but 'pitter' doesn't, and there are also no words 'flim', 'raff', etc.
     

    Aardvark01

    Senior Member
    British English (Midlands)
    "Patter" is a frequentative of "pat" and in combination with "pitter" this repetition is intensified by reduplicating the sound. I believe this makes it an endocentric compound, which may once have been the case with flim-flam and riff-raff even though there is no definite etymology for these words in modern English.

    (eg. "flim" might come from "flimsy" which might come from Welsh "llymsi" = weak, sluggish)
     
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    djmc

    Senior Member
    English - United Kingdom
    To some extent pitter-patter may be thought of as onomatopoeic, mimicking the sound of rain on a roof. However most of these are not. English seems to like alliteration and assonance, and this sort of combination is quite common. Harum-scarum, linsey-woolsey are two others. Cockney slang may be another example of this. He is telling porkie pies, or he's telling porkies meaning he is telling lies is another example.
     

    grubble

    Senior Member
    British English
    Hi!
    There is a series of compound words in English like 'to flim-flam', 'to pitter-patter', 'riff-raff'. Are they just compound nouns/verbs or there is a special term to name them?
    Thank you!
    Note that there is no word serie:cross: in English. Singular and plural are both series:tick:.


    zig-zag
    bish-bash-bosh
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    << Moderator note.
    This thread is about terminology.
    It is not an opportunity to post examples.
    panjandrum >>
    Shame, but I will desist despite my secret longing to recreate ewies dictionary!

    Back on topic ... I noticed that the original poster seemed to have concluded that these are cliches, and I think that is a misunderstanding. They are not ALL cliches to my mind.
     
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