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Reduplicative compounds

Reduplicative compounds are compounds in which the first constituent is a (partial) copy of the second.  Examples are klop-klop knock-knock and tik-tak tick-tock. They may express a form of repetition of sounds or actions. Most of these compounds belong to the domain of expressive morphology and are phonaesthetic, onomatopoeic, playful, endearing, or pejorative in nature.

Example 1

a. bimbam
b. wissewas
c. haaibaai
d. ukkepuk
small child
e. prietpraat
f. kissebis
to bicker

The right-hand constituent may not exist by itself as a word, as in kisse-bis.

A second type of reduplicative compounds is made up from compounds such as meisje-meisje girl-girl real girl. The repetition of the head in the non-head position expresses that the entity denoted possesses the prototypical properties of what the head noun denotes. For instance, a vakantie-vakantie vacation-vacation is a real vacation, not a werk-vakantie work-vacation in which work is still being done. A studie-studie study-study is a serious course of study, not one with a soft program.


More examples of reduplicative compounds can be found in (De Haas and Trommelen 1993: 451-453).

  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij