Features Of Reduplicate Vocabulary In The Russian And Kalmyk Languages


The paper considers reduplicate vocabulary in the genres of spoken speech in Russian and Kalmyk languages. The purpose of the paper is to identify the structural and semantic features and functional capabilities of reduplicate units in spoken speech of the above mentioned language groups. A comparative analysis of the language material made it possible to confirm not only the versatility of reduplicated lexical units in two languages, but also to identify their functional features. Based on the study, the authors concluded that reduplication serves as a common way of word formation in the studied languages. However, in each of them, the reduplicates have some differences reflected in the meaning of the structural elements of lexical units, in the means of expression and functions of these units. The material confirms that in colloquial speech reduplicates perform amplifying, rhythm-forming, emotional functions. Functionally they act as means of variation of a lexical meaning more often, expressing intensity, frequency of action, continuity, duration, length, plurality, etc.



Modern scientific works have repeatedly addressed the phenomenon of reduplication. The concept of “reduplication” is based on the Latin word meaning a formal or meaningful repetition of various units of a language or expressed meaning of a lexical unit. Together with this concept, many terms are used in the scientific literature, such as, etc. Without neglecting the above terms, we take a comprehensive approach in understanding and naming a reduplicate pair-repeated phenomenon in linguistics. From a number of terms, we use the broad concept of “reduplication” and the derived term “reduplicate”, which means a linguistic unit and a binominal structure formed in one way or another. At the same time, the “reduplicated part of a lexical unit is called a reduplicant, the reduplicating – a reduplicator, and the reduplicated lexical unit itself is a reduplicate” (Punkov & Ovtina, 2018, p. 145).

The problematics of this method of word formation are quite developed in comparative terms of Russian-Germanic, Russian-Turkic, Russian-Finno-Ugric languages, however, in the different systems of Russian and Kalmyk languages, the functional and semantic-structural analysis of reduplicate words has not been studied deeply enough. Besides, in connection with the ambiguity of the studied phenomenon, it is relevant to study their implementation in different functional areas and genres of use, in particular in colloquial speech of the representatives of different cultures.

Reduplicate units are currently actively studied by different scientists, which indicates their uniqueness and scientific attractiveness. The issue of reduplication has recently been addressed in domestic linguistics by some researchers: (Arsentieva & Valiullina, 2013; Andrianova, 2009; Kryuchkova, 2000; Minlos, 2004; Rozhansky, 2011; Sanyarova, 2018).

In Western linguistics, the scientific works of Wales, Tannen and others are known. Wales considered the repetition “a manifestation of language redundancy in the conditions of ineffective communication” (Wales, 1987, p. 52). Tannen (1989) believed that “repetition in conversational discourse gives the listener an opportunity to receive information at about the same speed as the speaker” (p. 21).

The study of the problems of reduplication can also be found in Mongolian languages, the family of which includes the Kalmyk language. Mongolian and Kalmyk scientists Bardaev (1985), Bitkeeva and Bitkeev (1985), Bertagaev (1973), Bat-Ireedui (2013), Chimitdorzhieva (2017), Darbeeva (1963), Suseeva (2013), etc. wrote in their works about the processes of reduplication. Bertagaev (1973) refers the “paired words, or binominals formed from sound reflective words” to the types of word combinations (p. 44). According to scientists, the phenomenon of reduplication is characteristic of any language, and thus demonstrates its versatility. Having studied this phenomenon and its typical diversity a Mongolian researcher Bat-Ireedui pointed to disagreements in considering the phenomenon of reduplication (Bat-Ireedui, 2013). Some researchers consider reduplication (repetitions) together with paired words, focusing on rhyming phonetic similarity of some paired words to reduplicates.

Problem Statement

The global social processes observed at the turn of the 20th-21st centuries caused the need to solve the issues of intercultural interaction, which increased the attention to the lexical composition, which, as a rule, reflects evolutionary processes in a language.

This study is a strive to summarize the results of the scientific study of reduplicate vocabulary in different system languages (Russian and Kalmyk), to consider problematic issues of the systemic description and functioning of reduplicates due to internal and external factors of linguistic development. At the same time, it is impossible to get to know a language without referring to its sphere of functioning and using its linguistic personality. In terms of functional and regulatory systems, the lexical fund of both Russian and Kalmyk languages has not been sufficiently studied due to its constant renewal and change. The study of these languages in the comparative aspect of reduplicate vocabulary allowed taking a fresh look at some issues of word formation in both languages. The lexical composition of the studied languages is enriched by the formation of new words derived from existing lexical units, including through the duplication of words. Both in Russian and in Kalmyk, reduplication is one of the most productive, widely used methods of word formation, which played a significant role in the formation of the lexical fund of these languages. However, there are some differences in the use and functioning of reduplicate vocabulary in various genres of spoken speech of Russian and Kalmyk languages.

Research Questions

The fact of studying reduplicate vocabulary in Russian and Kalmyk is important: the question of the role and place of reduplication in the system of varieties of word repetitions was considered at almost all linguistic levels. Besides, this phenomenon is attributed to derivation, as a result of which other, new units of a language are formed. Duplicate units are important in all applications, especially in oral speech. They are characterized by a variety of structures and graphic features, which attract the attention of the interlocutor and express the intentions of a native speaker.

The main purpose of the reduplicates is to implement the expressive-affecting function.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this paper is a comprehensive analysis of reduplicate vocabulary in colloquial Russian and Kalmyk speech. In order to achieve the purpose of the study, the following tasks were set: 1) to determine the place of this term in a circle of close concepts; 2) to identify semantic and constructive features of reduplicates in the system of two languages – Russian and Kalmyk; 3) to analyze the functionality of reduplicate units in spoken speech texts.

Research Methods

The study was carried out on the material of Russian and Kalmyk reduplicates, the source of which was Kalmyk-Russian dictionaries and recordings of oral spoken texts from the author’s records. The material was analyzed using a stylistic method, which considers the semantic-functional behavior of reduplicates in a certain area of their operation. In particular, spoken speech has extralinguistic features: usually this is a dialogue involving at least two interlocutors; the speech is situation-driven, spontaneous, and emotional.


Reduplication, as a peripheral phenomenon in linguistics, has long been outside the attention of domestic scientists, therefore it did not find a deep theoretical understanding in Russian linguistics. Only with the beginning of the study of spoken speech in the 20th century reduplication gained recognition in domestic science.

Let us consider the problems of reduplication that cause discussions in modern linguistics: its definition, mechanisms of formation, classification, functions.

1. Place of the term in a circle of close concepts

To date, reduplication has no clear and shared definition. Researchers and scientists from different eras tried to consider this matter, but their points of view on the volume of this concept did not coincide. There is a wide and narrow understanding of reduplication in linguistics. The first is associated with various aspects and levels of a language: phonetic, morphological, lexical, semantic and syntactic; the second – only with a certain side of a language. Thus, according to Gilyarova (2010), reduplication is a word doubling, i.e. a phenomenon of the lexical level only, so it does not contain syntactic repetitions. In the linguistic tradition, reduplicates and paired lexical units were considered together due to semantic and formal reasons. So, in our opinion, one of the fundamental works in this field is the work of Minlos (2004), where the scientist combined reduplicates and paired words with the concept of “rhyming combinations”. Studying reduplication and repetition in a pragmatic aspect Verzhbitskaya considered them both functionally and structurally identical phenomena (Vezhbitskaya, 1999).

It should be noted that at the present stage the scientific world considers different aspects of the reduplication.

The perception of reduplicate vocabulary by scientists has changed over time, if at the initial stages of their study they were considered a rhetorical means, later – a stylistic technique.

Differentiating paired words and duplications in Mongolian languages, Darbeeva (1963) analyzes duplications with phonetic variations, which she considers as paired words. Moreover, the author does not consider paired words as duplications, but as the pairs of for such repetitions: (occasionally, sometimes), (tall-tall), (fast-fast),(by sazhens) (Bardaev, 1985).

Pair words were the subject of scientific consideration by Kalmyk scientists Bitkeeva and Bitkeev. In their opinion, in terms of their external, formal characteristics the paired words do not differ from simple combinations of words, since the components of these combinations also serve as nouns, stand in the same case, and are connected by a syntactic connection – parataxis. In phonetic terms, they are perceived integrally, which is reflected in their single pronunciation, without intonation of enumeration. The difference between simple words and paired combinations is that there is a different semantic relationship, for example, antonymic or synonymic relations “between the components of a new but already complex word” (Bitkeeva & Bitkeev, 1985, p. 61).

Thus, having considered various points of view on the phenomenon of reduplication, we settled upon the following characteristics: reduplication – a circle of language phenomena that is characterized by a formal and meaningful repetition (at least twice) of one of the units of the language (phonemes, morphemes, lexemes). In other words, reduplication can be considered a variety of duplication: sound duplication (); 2) syllable duplication ( (giggle), (joke)); 3) affix duplication ( (bucket)); 4) doubling the whole word (white-white, girl-girl, walking-walking); 5) duplication of a whole syntactic construction or remote repetition of the same word within the entire text (lexical repetition, tautology): (I. Severyanin).

2. Structural and semantic features of reduplicates in the system of two languages - Russian and Kalmyk

The analysis of reduplications in the Russian and Kalmyk languages indicates that they can be attributed to different morphological units:

  • nouns: Russ. кошки-мышки (cat-and-mouse), прыг-скок (thumpety thump), танцы-шманцы (rumpy pumpy), чудо-юдо (whangdoodle), шум-гам (hustle and bustle); Kalm. элгн-садн (relatives, kindred), хог-бог (garbage), ах-ду (brothers);
  • adjectives: most often the names of shades of color or taste, for example, Russ. суетный – маетный (restless – exhausting), горько – сладкий (bitter – sweet); Kalm. хар улан (dark-skinned), шар цоохр (yellow-mottled), хар алг (black-and-white);
  • adverbs: Russ. нежданно-негаданно (quite unexpectedly), подобру-поздорову (before it’s too late), любо-дорого (it is a real pleasure), туда-сюда (back and forth), худо-бедно (fits and starts), шито-крыто (hush-hush); Kalm. аалҗӊ-аалҗӊ (hardly) (in relation to the manner of movement with legs); алцр-алцр (sweepingly); игҗ-тиигҗ (so-so), нааран-цааран (but-and-ben), энд-тенд (here and there);
  • pronouns: Russ. такой-сякой (blankety-blank), там-сям (here and there), то-сё (this and that), туда-сюда (back and forth); Kalm. тиим-сиим;
  • numerals: Russ. сотни-две (two hundreds); Kalm. хойр-һурвн;
  • verbs: Russ. ищи-свищи (gone with the wind), рядить-судить (judge), шататься-мотаться (wibble-wobble); Kalm. идх-уух, цуцрх-муурх “overwork);
  • interjection: Russ. хи-хи, ха-ха (hi-hi, ha-ha!); Kalm. пө-пө.

In Russian and Kalmyk cultures, the formation of reduplicate vocabulary occurs due to imitation of the sounds of nature, non-living objects and the animal world, such as the Russian:,; Kalmyk:,,.

In both Russian and Kalmyk languages, the formation of paired words is an active way of constructing lexical units. This is explained by their capacity, accuracy and exhaustive transmission of the meaning of the expressed concept. The discovery of reduplicate units in different typological systems of languages indicates their universality.

The study material made it possible to find that reduplication, which is a universal phenomenon, manifests itself differently in languages. Thus, in the vocabulary inventory among the various methods of formation of Kalmyk words, Professor Suseeva (2013) noted that the lexical units formed by addition “acquire meanings that are wider than the meanings of each of its constituent components” (p. 19). Taking this comment into account, according to semantics, we identified reduplicates of two types in Kalmyk language. The first type includes such units, in the composition of which their elements have real semantics, for example, the names of gender-family relations: actually paired, consisting of duplication of 2 different bases ( – sisters: – older, – younger; – parents: – mother, – father). The total meaning of “parents” (Kalm.) is transmitted here by different, but independent words – (Kalm. mother) and (Kalm. father), “brothers” (Kalm.) – and, family (Kalm.) – and. Each word constituting a pair can exist separately, however, being included in the general composition of the phrase, it appears a common concept. So, the reduplicate(day) is a paired word, the meaning of which is wider than the meaning of each word separately: өдр (day) and сө (night).

The second type are such paired phrases as (Kalm. шикрмикр); (Kalm. дегтрмегтр); (Kalm. малсал); (Kalm. гермер), (meat and the like), (sugar and other sweets), which feature is that the second component does not have a real meaning, and it does not have independent use, but serves as an option with a modified sound of the first component. The second component is the combination of sounds with the meaning of uncertainty (“” – something of the kind, everything else). In these paired combinations, the meaning of the main word is expanded, and the second, which is a phonetic modification of the first, does not mean anything specifically.

Thus, in the two considered languages the reduplicates consist of or are actually paired words consisting of duplication of 2 different bases, the general meaning of which is transmitted by different but independent words, or reduplicated paired-repeated words, the formation of which mechanically repeats the same word.

3) Functionality of reduplicate units in spoken speech.

Despite the fact that the Russian and Kalmyk languages are different, and their reduplicates have some differences, but the conditions for their functioning are similar. In Russian and Kalmyk languages, reduplicates are not used in the book style, but “due to the expressiveness that arises as a result of the interaction of formal, substantive and sound signs” (Kryuchkova, 2000, p. 72) are most often found in spoken speech of both adult and younger age in the field of everyday communication, oral etiquette formulas of wishful thinking, in the speech of children. Here, the reduplicates perform different functions.

Our materials of colloquial Russian speech contain a reduplicate vocabulary that performs the following functions: 1) assessment: (Well, no time for ah-oh, let’s get down to business; Don’t worry, Petunya, everything will be tickety-boo); 2) qualitative characteristic of an object:(Why are you crying, dear? Oh, what a sweet thing!). Kalmyk reduplicates perform generalizing functions:= goods,= farm,= business; 3) indeterminate nomination, for example, (something meat); 4) neglect:(deception),(gossip); 5) recurrence:; 6) multiplicity: (with many breaks).

Traditionally, in Russian folklore, reduplicated combinations of lexemes (Once upon a time) served as a fabulous beginning – (Once upon a time there lived an old man with an old woman), but in Kalmyk speech, for example, in, their function may change, they may indicate the time of the action.

Being stylistically marked with repeating units, reduplicates ensure an emotionally expressive role in speech. Thus, in Russian, they perform an amplifying function, which allows the subject of speech focusing on the object of action. Besides, they are pronounced in certain speech situations and to a certain addressee:!;! (Good appetite!; Kanun and candle!). In Kalmyk benevolent speech, through repeated words, the quality of action is strengthened using definitions: бәәтн (To live happily (literally better and more beautiful). The same function is implemented using repetitions of verb forms: / So that they pull-pull, but didn’t stretch/ / So that they break-break, but didn’t break!

Russian reduplicates in colloquial speech are used in the form of verb combinations with particle, which have the meaning of duration that perform an expressive function, for example, when addressing harvesting people:! (A lot to carry!) Or a wish to new clothes:! (Wear forever!). In the Kalmyk oral forms of benevolence, the reduplicates perform an emotional function along with an adverbial participle: төвкнүн бәәҗ / Let be peace in home places // Хоорнданболҗ / Let all be united among themselves // Одсн һазрииньбагтҗ / Let the bride get happiness // бәәҗ / Be always joyful// батрҗ / Let the deeds and belief be stronger// Таңһч нутг йовтха / Let the country prosper! // / All relatives and brothers // / Let them stay calm. Here, the meaning of multiplicity acquires a special emotional color, and the very use of paired words in benevolence is sacred.

In the children’s speech of both Russian and Kalmyk, the reduplicates perform a. Most often, children orally speak with counting rhymes – texts consisting of invented words and consonants with emphasized strict observance of rhythm due to repetition of words and numbers, their pronunciation is distinguished by an emotional color, which is dictated by the game situation. Sequentially pronounced numbers are used as repetitions in Russian counting rhymes:! Мы собрались поиграть. К нам сорока прилетела и тебе водить велела! ( W’re going to play. A magpie flew to us and told you to lead!). In the counting rhymes of Kalmyk children we also observe a three-fold repetition of the same number – / two, two, two /// a gossip has side eyes /// three, three, three // / ground squirrel is the enemy of bread. In the Russian counting rhyme / шли солдаты // /на базар // / что купили? // / самовар, the etymology of the repeated words is an abbreviation for the old Russian, now forgotten, names of foot feet. In Kalmyk counting rhyme, the basis is formed by paired words, some of which have darkened etymology, for example, in the counting rhyme In this text, there are only two paired words with an understandable meaning: (squirrel),  (divine drink), and the repeating lexemes are unknown, and possibly occurred on the basis of word games.


The analysis of spoken speech material suggests that reduplication in both languages is a frequent phenomenon. All revealed cases of reduplicate vocabulary are classified by the degree of semantic proximity, by the homogeneity of their structural components and the independence of use, by the nature of the participation of parts in the creation of a new concept.

In the solution of the declared topic, the reduplicates are considered in colloquial speech from the point of view of their functional features. A comparative analysis of Russian and Kalmyk reduplicate units demonstrated a fairly wide range of their functions. As the material confirm, reduplications in colloquial speech perform amplifying, rhythm-forming, emotional functions. Functionally they more often act as the means of variation of a lexical meaning expressing intensity, frequency of action, continuity, duration, length, plurality, etc.

As a result of the study of reduplicates of two languages, it can be noted that reduplication is a productive method of word formation. However, in each language they have some differences, which is reflected in the meanings of their structural elements, in the means of expression and their functional specificity.


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Dzhambinova, N. S., Kichikova, N. A., Daldinova, E. O., & Kekeeva, T. M. (2021). Features Of Reduplicate Vocabulary In The Russian And Kalmyk Languages. In D. K. Bataev, S. A. Gapurov, A. D. Osmaev, V. K. Akaev, L. M. Idigova, M. R. Ovhadov, A. R. Salgiriev, & M. M. Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Social and Cultural Transformations in The Context of Modern Globalism, vol 117. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 819-827). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2021.11.110