As I’m sure many of you are aware, English (as well as other languages) has a phonological rule called Ablaut Reduplication – why we say things like ping-pong, chit-chat, tick-tock, tic-tac-toe, etc., and not pong-ping, chat-chit, tock-tick, and tac-tic-toe, or toe-tic-tac, or tac-toe-tic. Even things like big bad wolf, which breaks the order of adjectives in English – we should be bad big wolf, but the ablaut rule supersedes this. It seems ‘i’ is always followed by ‘a’ or ‘o’ and, if all three occur in one ‘phrase’, it can only ever be ‘i’, ‘a’, ’o’ (as in tic-tac-toe, big bad wolf).

My question is, for speakers of English, does this rule also govern random free vocalization??

In other words, if I had a glossic string of say “kishandarabobo” – notice I’m adhering to the i-a-o order – can something ever come out as say, “kashindorobaba” even though it’s ‘random free’ vocalization, it's breaking the i-a-o rule – I guess another way of putting it is, does this rule of Ablaut Reduplication apply/govern all aspects of, not only an English speaker’s normal speech production (English), but also their production of random free vocalization?? Is that randomness perhaps not so random as one might think?

Where I’m going with this is the phenomenon of “speaking in tongues” – non-cognitive non-language utterance – essentially random free vocalization. Is a native English speaker’s ‘tongues-speech’ governed by the rule of Ablaut Reduplication since typically, phonological rules in the speaker’s native language must also be followed in their tongues-speech; for example, any disallowed sound combinations in a speaker’s native language are also disallowed in tongues-speech. Wondering if that also applies to the rule of Ablaut Reduplication – it would account for the somewhat similarities in what’s being produced with respect to how the vowel sounds are “ordered” (for lack of a better way to put it).

Appreciate any insight!

  • Take a look at Cooper and Ross's "World Order".
    – jlawler
    Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 21:35
  • What about Humpty Dumpty, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Incy Wincy Spider, Wee Willie Winkie, the Hokey Pokey, and Hocus Pocus? Is there a place for these friends of mine in your nice cozy realm?
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 1:33
  • @Yellow Sky - I have to wonder if that's because these are proper names of things, such as it is. Just a guess as these do indeed seem to violate the Ablaut Reduplication rule. Hocus Pocus is corrupted from Latin "hoc est corpus..." , so it doesn't really count. It is interesting to note that the vowel being repeated here on the main stress of each example is the same one.
    – Kavik
    Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 14:53


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