Sui Adjective Reduplication as Poetic Morpho-Phonology


An intricate system of adjective intensification permeates Sui, a Tai-Kadai minority language of Guizhou Province, China. Sui adjective intensifiers show evidence of partial reduplication involving a complex interplay of morphophonological processes: rhyme, alliteration, The Emergence of The Unmarked (TETU), and identity avoidance patterns that support Kennard’s “Copy but don’t repeat” [(2004). Phonology, 21(3), 303–323]. This Sui phenomenon has never been reported to the wider linguistic community beyond Guizhou, and it provides valuable theoretical insight into reduplication and related morpho-phonological processes. Moreover, the interaction of these morpho-phonological processes forms a system of patterned variety that may be viewed as a poeticized lexicon or lexicalized poetry, thus illustrating the presence of extensive poetic effects embedded within the core grammar. In this way, Sui provides strong support for Yip’s observation that “humans have both an aptitude and a taste for creating repetitive sequences, and they may use this skill in a variety of ways that are more or less part of the core grammar of the language” [(1999). Glot International, 4.8, 1–7].

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Stanford, J.N. Sui Adjective Reduplication as Poetic Morpho-Phonology. J East Asian Linguist 16, 87–111 (2007).

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  • Sui
  • Reduplication
  • Adjective intensifiers
  • Identity avoidance
  • The emergence of the unmarked
  • Tai-Kadai