“To have another language is to possess a second soul.”



Super-duper, okey- dokey ; bye- bye; blah-blah; ga- ga; tip-top are a few examples of the phenomenon  of ´´reduplication´´ in English.

Reduplication is an interesting morphological process in many languages . English words formed by duplicating or repeating certain words or sounds are called reduplications. In reduplication a part of the word which is repeated may undergo a slight change to form a new word.

(Super-duper, okey- dokey ; bye- bye; blah-blah; ga- ga; tip são alguns exemplos do fenômeno de ´´reduplicação´´ em inglês.

A reduplicação é um processo morfológico interessante em muitas línguas. Palavras em inglês formadas pela duplicação ou repetição de certas palavras/sons são chamadas de ´´reduplicações´´. Na reduplicação, uma parte da palavra que é repetida pode passar por uma pequena alteração para formar uma nova palavra.)

Let´s dig deeper…

(Vamos ver mais fundo…)


In general, repetition is not looked upon as good in any language, so why do we repeat and reduplicate?

The most common reason for reduplication is simply wordplay or emphasis. Generally, we use reduplication in discussions and conversations. The word which is repeated in the reduplication pair does not have any specific meaning of its own. While one word might have a specific meaning, the second pairing word may not- it may just have been added for emphasis or for creating an effect.

This super-duper phenomena of reduplication is all about repetition and rhyming and is used sometimes to give emphasis and at other times to pep up your talk!

Em geral, a repetição não é considerada boa em nenhuma língua, então por que repetimos e reduplicamos?

O motivo mais comum para reduplicação é simplesmente jogo de palavras ou ênfase. Geralmente, usamos a reduplicação em discussões e conversas. A palavra repetida no par de reduplicação não possui nenhum significado específico próprio. Embora uma palavra possa ter um significado específico, a segunda palavra de emparelhamento pode ser adicionada para dar ênfase ou para criar um efeito.

Este ´´super-duper´´ fenômeno de ´´reduplicação´´ tem tudo a ver com repetição e rima.Ele é usado às vezes para dar ênfase e outras vezes para dar ânimo ao sua fala!)

3 common types of reduplications are :

  1. Exact reduplication: where the same word is repeated- bye-bye; blah-blah; gaga; knock-knock; so-so; chop-chop
  • So-so(adjective): not good; between average and low quality

Susie: How are you getting along with your boss?

Amy: So-so

David: How was the movie?

Nathan: So-so


  • Blah-blah(noun): uninteresting talk when you don´t want to say exact words because it is boring

She kept talking all evening about how she bought her new car and we should buy the same brand- that it was nice, cozy  blah-blah.


  • Chop-chop(exclamation/adverb): Hurry up

Tim: Wait, I´m coming in 5 minutes.

Jack: Chop-chop, we´re going to be late!


  1. Rhyming reduplication : where the pairing word is a rhyming word- teeny- weeny; nitty-gritty; easy-peasy; super- duper; okey-dokey ; walkie-talkie
  • teeny-weeny(adjective): very small

I bought a teeny-weeny skirt for my 3 year old niece.


  • Nitty-gritty(noun): basic facts or details of a situation

Let´s discuss the nitty-gritty of the Project- how much will it cost and what are the timelines?


  • Super-duper(adjective): Extremely good

I had a super-duper Holiday.


  1. Ablaut reduplication : where the first word has vowel ´i´ and the second word has the vowel ´o´ or ´a´ Zig- zag ;  flip-flop ; hip- hop; tip-top; criss-cross; see-saw; ping-pong ; chit-chat


  • Zig-zag(noun/adjective/adverb): a row or pattern of z´s joined together, a series of sharp turns and angles

She drove zig-zag across the city.

The shirt has a zigzag pattern.


  • Flip-flop(noun): chinelos

Don´t forget to take your flip-flops to the beach.


  • Seesaw(noun/verb): gangorra

The kids love playing on the seesaw.


  • Chit-chat(noun): informal conversation; small talk

Julie: What did you two talk about?

Susan: Oh, nothing special, it was just chit-chat!


What other examples of reduplication can you think of?

Does Reduplication occur in your language?

Let´s pep up our conversations with reduplication!


Tchau- tchau…this one is in Portuguese


Para aulas particulares, aulas de inglês e para aprender mais expressões interessantes entre em contato comigo:

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Happy learning!

Garima Johari

















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