Acceptability of Arabic Reduplicates

Mohammad Anani


The relative importance attached to reduplication in spoken or written discourse, or acceptability or non-acceptability of a collocation with reference to formal/ informal use of language has not yet been accounted for. To find out how much reduplication is absorbed and acquired almost unconsciously, and to find out what informal pairs are considered acceptable or unacceptable in the formal use of language, a list of 123 reduplicative words was compiled and presented to fourteen undergraduate students studying a course of Semantics at Petra University. Responses were checked with reference to a three-point scale: acceptable, unacceptable and dubious by two professors of Arabic. The purpose was to pinpoint what collocations could be summoned from the mental lexicon.The objectives of this study are the following: (i) to consider the type of input an adult native speaker of Arabic has been subjected to as far as reduplication is concerned (ii) to determine the ranges of collocates that reduplicative words exhibit in normal everyday speech )iii) to explore acceptability or non-acceptability of reduplicative collocations and (iv) to shed light on differences between the mental lexicon of reduplicates and matching dictionary entries . Judging by the acceptability/unacceptability test conducted, one may conclude that each class of reduplicative verbs has a limited range of collocates and that some collocations are perfectly normal and acceptable, while others were felt to be unacceptable and unusual.

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International Journal of Linguistics  ISSN 1948-5425  Email:

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