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Today's Sheldon takes Contrastive Focus Reduplication up a notch:

[Tip of the hat to David Craig]

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25 Comments »

  1. kktkkr said,

    July 28, 2011 @ 10:40 am

    The best interpretation I have for the phrase is to assign a meaning for each occurrence of 'talk', with each new meaning being 'truer' or closer to conversation:

    1. talk-in a weak sense, to express an opinion
    2. talk-have the capacity for speech/use a language for communication.
    3. talk-to do this in a conversational setting rather than as a monologue.
    So in the comic, every level gets considered in turn to emphasize how realistic the talking is.

    This clearly gets awkward when the number of reduplications exceeds the number of natural interpretations of the word, forcing the listener to insert levels of implication to make up the difference. It certainly would be difficult to interpret 'talk-talk-talk-talk-talk-talk-talk' meaningfully, and much more difficult to reliably convey the same message and implications to multiple listeners with such a construction.

  2. Mike M said,

    July 28, 2011 @ 11:22 am

    Not sure if anyone else is like this, but as a relatively regular user of X-X constructions, I'd be more inclined to use 4, rather than 3, Xs. The idea is that each duplication reinforces the reality of X. So there's talking, but a duck that REALLY talks is a duck that talk-talks. If you want to emphasise that again, I find 'that duck talk-talk talk-talks!' relatively comprehensible (when spoken at least), but talk talk talks kind of meaningless.

    In the most common usage, it seems reasonable to answer, 'does he really like-like me?!' with 'yes he _like-like_ like likes you.' Okay this is just getting hard to type now.

  3. Mr Fnortner said,

    July 28, 2011 @ 11:32 am

    Buffalo buffalo…oh, never mind.

  4. DJ said,

    July 28, 2011 @ 12:17 pm

    About here [talk-talk-talk-talk-talk-talk-talks] is where my dad would have said, "her mind goes off and leaves her mouth running…"

  5. Nick Lamb said,

    July 28, 2011 @ 12:18 pm

    Surely a duck that "talk talk talks" is a duck that's excessively verbose or is perceived that way because its choice of topics is boring (what would ducks say anyway?).

  6. MattF said,

    July 28, 2011 @ 12:26 pm

    I wonder if that third 'talk' is, in fact, constrastive. Seems to me more like– 'a duck that really really talk-talks.'

  7. Sili said,

    July 28, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

    what would ducks say anyway?

    He usually talks about himself.

    Or occasionally his son.

  8. Sili said,

    July 28, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

    And then he just launches into pure appreciation of words for their own sakes.

  9. Jonathan Mayhew said,

    July 28, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

    It would be more impressive if it were not a cartoon duck but a duck-duck.

  10. richard said,

    July 28, 2011 @ 4:02 pm

    My Asian-American students, and some of the Asian students who have been here awhile, use this approach to distinguish the two:

    Q: Is she Korean?
    A: Yeah.
    Q: Korean-Korean, or Korean-American?
    A: Oh, she's Korean-Korean, but she went to high school in Vermont.

    I haven't heard anyone described as Korean-Korean-Korean, but I suppose it's just a matter of time….

  11. Nathan Myers said,

    July 28, 2011 @ 4:16 pm

    Toward the end she is starting to sound like a duck herself.

  12. GeorgeW said,

    July 28, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

    Are there any languages, except cartoon English, in which there is triduplication?

  13. Sili said,

    July 28, 2011 @ 5:30 pm

    It would be more impressive if it were not a cartoon duck but a duck-duck.

    Oh, but he is a duck-duck, he's just augmented.

    Or did you mean a duck-duck duck? (Duck duck-duck? Duck duck duck?)

  14. Sili said,

    July 28, 2011 @ 5:32 pm

    Sorry for the spamming, but Arthur implicature as well.

    (Hours of fun.)

  15. Rubrick said,

    July 28, 2011 @ 5:52 pm

    Goose!

  16. Xmun said,

    July 28, 2011 @ 9:13 pm

    @GeorgeW:

    I've heard it said that the Spanish morphemes -it- (diminutive) and -ot- (augmentative) can be duplicated and even triplicated for emphasis. Thus, e.g., chico (little), chiquito (tiny), chiquitito (teeny-weeny: see Cassell's Colloquial Spanish: A Handbook of Idiomatic Usage, p. 23), and — though I can't remember seeing it anywhere — possibly even chiquititito (teeny-weensy-weensy).

  17. Layra said,

    July 29, 2011 @ 4:24 am

    Is it (talk-talk)-talk or talk-(talk-talk)? For reasons I can't articulate, to me the first seems to imply something father from actual talking than the second.

  18. Henning Makholm said,

    July 29, 2011 @ 6:45 am

    In musical notation, the symbols "f" and "p" for forte (loud) and piano (quiet) are regularly triduplicated.

  19. GeorgeW said,

    July 29, 2011 @ 7:00 am

    @Henning Makholm: In the languages that I am most familiar with, English and Arabic, it is not uncommon to intensify the adverb 'very' three times (in speech), like: 'That is very, very, very loud.' Is this what the musical notation is doing?

    However, I can't think of other examples.

  20. Faldone said,

    July 29, 2011 @ 9:06 am

    In music f is loud, so fff would only be very, very loud. I have seen ffff and pppp. Regarding the latter, I remember a time when our choral director, in an attempt to tone down the sopranos in a pppp section told them, "I don't want to hear you. Just be there."

  21. Alex Fink said,

    July 30, 2011 @ 9:01 pm

    @GeorgeW: some Salishan languages have morphological triplication that isn't just applying the same reduplication process twice. For instance Wikipedia on St’át’imcets cites p’líxw 'boil over' forming a continuative intensive p’lixwixwíxw 'keep boiling over'.

    I'm not sure whether all of these triplications are built out of two different reduplications, though.

  22. AntC said,

    July 30, 2011 @ 11:51 pm

    @faldone "I don't want to hear you …": James Blades, veteran percussionist with the BBCSO used to tell a story about Malcolm Sargent [from memory] at the start of Ravel's Bolero. He kept stopping the orchestra and demanding the snare drum start quieter. Eventually in frustration he complained: "I can still hear you."

  23. bryan said,

    July 31, 2011 @ 11:37 am

    @richard
    My Asian-American students, and some of the Asian students who have been here awhile, use this approach to distinguish the two:

    Q: Is she Korean?
    A: Yeah.
    Q: Korean-Korean, or Korean-American?
    A: Oh, she's Korean-Korean, but she went to high school in Vermont.

    I haven't heard anyone described as Korean-Korean-Korean, but I suppose it's just a matter of time….

    Korea-Korean implies that both sides of her parent's families are Koreans instead of other nationalites.

    but she went to high school in Vermont = her parents were born and raised in Korea, but she was born in Korea and [her parents immigrated so she] grew up and was raised in the state of Vermont.

    There won't be a "Korean-Korean-Korean" because only two parent's nationalities are enough to tell you who you are UNLESS of course you were to add the great-grandparents if and only if they were of different naltionalities, whereas the child will be more confused, where as it will be Korean-Korean-A-A or Korean-Korean-A-B, where A-A means "same nationalities but are not Korean-Korean", A-B = different nationalities but neither are of Korean descent. Check the following website: http://www.myspace.com/morenacorwinfans and you might find "her mother is korean and her father is swiss/german"

  24. mollymooly said,

    August 1, 2011 @ 6:04 pm

    Teenager to mother:
    – I'm going out. [Leaving the house.]
    – Out-out? [Will you be back for dinner?]
    – Well, not out-out-out. [Where "out-out-out" implies "don't wait up".]

  25. Contrastive reduplication: a thing, or a THING-thing? | Sentence first said,

    March 6, 2013 @ 6:48 am

    [...] another verb, from Sheldon comics by Dave Kellett (via Language Log [...]

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