Are there examples of reduplication that clearly changes the syntactic category of a root/stem? I'm thinking of cases like:

pak, n 'tortilla'

pakpak, v 'make tortillas'

tap, a 'red'

tatap, v 'redden'

The language with pervasive reduplication I know best, Kaqchikel (Mayan), has reduplication turning affect words into intransitive verbs, like the following example, but as far as I know, there aren't cases of reduplication that change core syntactic categories.

witz' 'the sound mice make'

niwitz'itz' 'he/she/it made the sound mice make'

  • That depends on what you consider a syntactic category. In polysynthetic languages, there's often not much difference between verb, noun, and adjective, for instance, beyond the morphology that's applied. In Lushootseed (Salishan), there are a large number of reduplication types, but they apply to all kinds of roots.
    – jlawler
    Jan 2, 2013 at 19:56

2 Answers 2


There is Alemannic Verb Doubling where syntaxmorphologic duplication. Iff the verb subordinates another one, there's duplication of this verb.

Er [got *(go) [poschte]]
He  goes  go   shopping

Er [got (*go) (zum    Lädili)]
He  goes       to the shop
  • This doesn't seem to be what the question is asking about.
    – curiousdannii
    Jun 16, 2015 at 13:07
  • I think it does, OP is asking for data where reduplication is linked to change of category; this is an example where syntax (and categories = distribution in syntax) is linked to the doubling of morphemes.
    – purlupar
    Jun 16, 2015 at 14:21
  • Interesting example. Out of curiosity, how would Alemannic translate "I want to eat"/"I like to drive" (where, in English, one verb subordinates another) versus "I want some food"/"I like cars"?
    – user8017
    Sep 15, 2015 at 1:03

In colloquial Spanish, there are examples of reduplication such as El bebé estaba llori-llori (= "El bebé estaba llorando") that seem to involve non-finite forms of the verb, or deverbal derivations. Depending on how one analyzes such examples, reduplication may be part of the process whereby a verb is converted into a non-verb.

I don't know of any cases in Spanish where a conjugated form of the verb is reduplicated.


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