Tautological, Synonymous Compound

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Skatinginbc

Senior Member
Mandarin 國語
Hi,
I'm looking for examples of tautological or synonymous compounds (e.g., English skiff-boat, pathway), particularly (1) those that exhibit alliteration (e.g. English living-life) and (2) those that consist of a native morpheme and a loan identical or similar in meaning (e.g., Chinese xiǎn-xiù 顯秀 ‘to show’ as in 能顯秀肌肉 'able to show off the muscles' with a native morpheme xiǎn 顯 ‘to show, expose’ plus a loan xiù 秀 ‘to show’ from the English word show). Can you think of any in your language?
Thank you.
 
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  • fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    This depends perhaps on how narrowly you define the word “compound”. Classical and modern Persian has a fair number of words/phrases where you combine, using the conjunction “and”, the present and past stems of the same verb to create a noun: for example guft-u-gōy “conversation” (literally “said-and-say”). But I am not sure this is the sort of thing you are looking for.
     

    Skatinginbc

    Senior Member
    Mandarin 國語
    Thank you very much, fdb. I like your Persian example. It is very interesting indeed.

    By "compound", I mean a "word" (loosely defined, including hyphenated words). For example, I would consider 'subject matter' a phrase but 'textbook' or 'hustle-bustle' a word. What I am looking for is technically a type of reduplication that contains elements sharing the same onset (e.g., Latin perpetuus 'uninterrupted' = per- 'through' + petere 'to go to', both elements starting with /p-/) or that consists of a native element and a foreign element (e.g., Persian Taghdir + Arabic Maghdir = Persian Taghdir-Maghdir). There is one more requirement however: Both elements must be synonymous or near-synonymous.

    Your Persian example guft-u-gōy “conversation” (literally “said-and-say”) is really close to what I am asking for. There is a repeated /g-/ and shared meaning ("said" and "say" are near-synonyms).
     
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    ger4

    Senior Member
    German
    Some German examples:

    Düsenjet (Düse = 'jet') = 'jet aircraft'
    Testversuch (Versuch = 'test') = 'test'
    Guerrillakrieg (guerrilla < guerra = 'war'* + Krieg = 'war') = 'guerilla war'
    Pulsschlag (pulsus = 'beat'* + Schlag = 'beat') = 'pulsebeat'
    schlussendlich (Schluss = 'end' + Ende = 'end' + -lich = derivational suffix [noun > adjective]) = 'ultimately'
    Gratisgeschenk (gratis = 'free' [of charge] + Geschenk = 'present') ~ 'extra present'
    Fußpedal (Fuß = 'foot' + Pedal < pes = 'foot') = 'foot pedal'
    ISBN-Nummer / PIN-Nummer (N standing for number anyway) = 'ISBN-number' / 'pin-code'

    * In some cases I'm not sure if there is a difference in nuance betweeen the two parts of the compound - which might, in a way, 'disqualify' the word (for instance, guerilla isn't quite the same as guerra, as far as I know)
     

    Skatinginbc

    Senior Member
    Mandarin 國語
    Thank you very much, Holger. They are really good examples.

    I have a question regarding the German word düsenjet: Is düsen in that compound word a plural noun 'jets, nozzles', an infinite 'to jet, to pelt, to dash', a present participle 'jetting', or a past participle 'jetted'?
     
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    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    There are quite a few compounds in Catalan based on repetitions, such as baliga-balaga (unreliable guy), poti-poti (a mess or a hullabaloo), tic-tac (tick-tock), zig-zag, nyigui-nyogui (shoddy, third-rate), xino-xano (slowly, for walking), pengim-penjam (gracelessly), etc.

    But I guess you refer to those which are formed by words which also have a meaning when alone. If so, I can think of these three examples.

    estar a mata-degolla = "be in kill-slaughter (mood)" = to become enemies, be at daggers drawn with somebody

    fer (alguna cosa) a corre-cuita = "make (something) in a run-haste way" = make it very quickly

    fer suca-mulla = "make a dip-dunk" = to dip/dunk something like bread or biscuits into something like wine or milk.
     

    ger4

    Senior Member
    German
    I have a question regarding the German word düsenjet: Is düsen in that compound word a plural noun 'jets, nozzles', an infinite 'to jet, to pelt, to dash', a present participle 'jetting', or a past participle 'jetted'?
    I forgot to answer your question: Düsen is the plural form (nominative=genitive=dative=accusative) of the noun Düse.
    The first part of German compound nouns often appears in the plural even though it can be difficult to see the logic in the choice between singular and plural: a Glockenturm ('bell tower') may have one single bell but Glocke ('bell') is always in the plural: Glocken. On the other hand, in Autobahn ('motorway, highway') the noun Auto ('car, automobile') is in the nominative singular.
    fer (alguna cosa) a corre-cuita = "make (something) in a run-haste way" = make it very quickly
    This made me think of a slightly similar German expression: etwas zwischen Tür und Angel erledigen - literally 'to get something done between door and (door-)hinge' - doing something in a hurry (i. e. doing something while already leaving, passing the door)
     

    Frank78

    Senior Member
    German
    Düsenjet (Düse = 'jet') = 'jet aircraft'
    Guerrillakrieg (guerrilla < guerra = 'war'* + Krieg = 'war') = 'guerilla war'
    I'm not sure about these two.

    "Düse" refers to the appearance/form and jet (Strahltriebwerk) to the type of propulsion. But of course since there are no Düsen with propellers it's pretty pointless. :D

    Guerillakrieg has developed a completely new meaning. It's not just a "war war" but a special kind of asymetrical war.

    Another one:
    LCD-Display . liquid crystal display display
     

    ger4

    Senior Member
    German
    ^ I must admit, Düsenjet and Guerillakrieg weren't the best examples... (in general, I'm often not quite sure about the definition of a 'synonym'; even if two words have the same meaning, more or less, they often seem to "trigger different associations", if you can put it like that)
    tic-tac (tick-tock), zig-zag, [...]
    German: tick-tack, Zickzack - this seems to be universal... quite often, the vowels seem to alternate: front/'bright' vowel vs. back/'dark' vowel, the rest stays the same (is there a linguistic term for this type of 'juxtaposition'?) A similar expression: Singsang ('sing-song'). Der schwedische Singsang ('the Swedish sing-song') - a more colloquial way to describe the melodious intonation characterizing the Swedish language...
     

    Villeggiatura

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Latin:
    sacrosanctus
    sempiternus

    Greek:
    λιμενορμίτης [λιμήν + ὅρμος+-ίτης (of harbour and anchorage)]
    φαυλεπίφαυλος [φαῦλος + ἐπί + φαῦλος (bad upon bad)].

    Greek+Latin:
    πυργοκάστελλον [πύργος (tower,castle) + κάστελλον(castellum)]
     
    Greek: «πάμπαν» [πᾶν +πᾶν after assimilation]
    Latin:
    sacrosanctus
    sempiternus

    Greek:
    λιμενορμίτης [λιμήν + ὅρμος+-ίτης (of harbour and anchorage)]
    φαυλεπίφαυλος [φαῦλος + ἐπί + φαῦλος (bad upon bad)].

    Greek+Latin:
    πυργοκάστελλον [πύργος (tower,castle) + κάστελλον(castellum)]
    ^^
    These are great!
     

    Lusus Naturae

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    Chinese has an endless list of two-character and four-character tautological and synonymous compound words and idioms, e.g.,
    陆地 (land land) 江河 (river river) 城市 (city city) 岛屿 (isle islet)
    寒冷 (cold cold) 美丽 (beautiful beautiful) 乌黑 (black black)
    奔跑 (run run) 追逐 (chase chase)
    贪官污吏 (corrupt official corrupt official)
    甜言蜜语 (sweet talk sweet talk)
    无边无际 (boundless boundless)
    成双成对 (to couple to pair)
     

    Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    Welsh

    cael a chael
    - touch and go
    dechrau cychwyn - to start beginning
    driphlith draphlith - in a messy condition
    chwit chwat - fickle
    dwmbwr dambar - the sound rain makes on falling onto a window
    ffit ffat - fickle
    ffys a ffwdan - a fuss and a to-do
    hwn a hwn/hon a hon - someone/anyone (masc. and fem.)
    hwnco manco - hither and thither
    hwrli bwrli - hurly burley
    igam-ogam - zigzag
    law yn llaw - hand in hand
    man a man - soon
    mihifir-mihafar - neither a billy goat nor a nanny goat (i.e. an effeminate man)
    na siw na miw - not a sound nor a meow
    tyngu a rhegi - to swear (an oath) and to swear (bad words)
    yn rhydd ac yn rhwydd - free and easy
    whit-what - fickle
    ysgwydd wrth ysgwydd - shoulder to shoulder

    I should add that we can add any identical adjectives and adverbs to each other, to intensify the meaning. So, if bach means 'small', then,

    dyn bach is 'a small man'
    and dyn bach bach is 'a very small man'

    Again, yn dawel is 'quietly'

    eisteddodd yn dawel is 'she sat quietly'
    and eisteddodd yn dawel, dawel is 'she sat very quietly'

    PS Quite a few place-names in the UK show this duplication, often when an element is lost or misunderstood or comes from another language. A prime example is Pendle Hill in Lancashire, England. This consists of pen (British Celtic for 'head' or 'hill') + Anglo-Saxon hill + Anglo-Saxon hill.
     
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    AndrasBP

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    PS Quite a few place-names in the UK show this duplication, often when an element is lost or misunderstood or comes from another language. A prime example is Pendle Hill in Lancashire, England. This consists of pen (British Celtic for 'head' or 'hill') + Anglo-Saxon hill + Anglo-Saxon hill.
    A similar case is the name of Aran Valley, or Vall d'Aran in Catalan, a small region in northwestern Catalonia where Aranese, an Occitan dialect is spoken.
    'Aran' is a Basque word meaning 'valley', so the name literally means 'valley of the valley'.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Some German examples:

    Düsenjet (Düse = 'jet') = 'jet aircraft'
    Testversuch (Versuch = 'test') = 'test'
    Guerrillakrieg (guerrilla < guerra = 'war'* + Krieg = 'war') = 'guerilla war'
    Pulsschlag (pulsus = 'beat'* + Schlag = 'beat') = 'pulsebeat'
    schlussendlich (Schluss = 'end' + Ende = 'end' + -lich = derivational suffix [noun > adjective]) = 'ultimately'
    Gratisgeschenk (gratis = 'free' [of charge] + Geschenk = 'present') ~ 'extra present'
    Fußpedal (Fuß = 'foot' + Pedal < pes = 'foot') = 'foot pedal'
    ISBN-Nummer / PIN-Nummer (N standing for number anyway) = 'ISBN-number' / 'pin-code'

    * In some cases I'm not sure if there is a difference in nuance betweeen the two parts of the compound - which might, in a way, 'disqualify' the word (for instance, guerilla isn't quite the same as guerra, as far as I know)
    Are those* tautological/...? They seem to, for sure, but some remind me of "internal objects": I dance a waltz, which I would not call pleonastic. The first part of the compound in some cases is an example of the general word following.

    LCD display, PIN number, Düsenjet: the problem is that the first part is no longer analysed in the sense that we no longer trace it back to the original, "analytical" meaning. Extremely common phenomenon, but we are not aware of it... ( Düsenjet: I suppose "jet" is mostly understood as a plane, and then the "Düse" might be considered as a reference to the source of the power...)

    "Pulsschlag": could "Puls" not refer to the wrist ("pols" in Dutch), and isn't the Pulsschlag the heartbeat that can be perceived/ measured at the wrist?

    Chinese: does repetition express intensity, or purity, or something the like?

    Dutch: zonder mitsen en maren, without iffing an butting (saying "if" and "but" all the time).
     
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