, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 207-237
Date: 10 Dec 2009

Reduplication in Kharia: the masdar as a phonologically motivated category

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At first glance, obligatory reduplication of monosyllabic lexemes in Kharia appears to be a means of deriving nouns and adjectives from verbs (cf. e.g. Abbi 1985, 1992; Biligiri 1965;76f.; Malhotra 1982) which originates from an earlier phonological constraint requiring all phonological words to be bisyllabic/bimoraic (Anderson and Zide 2002). As we argue in this study, however, although from a diachronic perspective reduplication in Kharia undoubtedly derives from a bisyllabic constraint on phonological words, a purely phonological analysis, as well as one in which reduplication merely serves to derive nouns or adjectives from verbs, is inadequate in our view, as reduplication is used to form the masdar, a grammatical category fulfilling a number of different functions: While the main or unmarked function of the masdar is undoubtedly secondary predication, it is also found in a highly marked construction in primary predication, where the bisyllabic constraint is actually redundant, as all primary predicates are at least bisyllabic even without reduplication. This analysis also differs from most studies dealing with reduplication in that the original function of what Inkelas and Zoll (2005) refer to as “morphological reduplication” was not semantic but rather purely phonological.

The data and analysis given in the present study are based on the results of approximately 8 months of field work conducted by the first author during five trips to Jharkhand, India. He would like to express his gratitude to the German Research Council (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) for two generous grants which made two of these trips possible (PE 872/1-1, 2).