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wishy-washy, hanky panky - name for this type of word-formation? Options
rogermue
Posted: Monday, April 2, 2012 3:05:40 AM

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There are a lot of words ot this type in the English vocabulary. Is there a name for this kind of words which consists of two parts with the second part being slightly changed either by change of vowel as in wishy-washy or by change of consonant as in hanky panky?
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Monday, April 2, 2012 3:45:43 AM

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I don't know if there is a more expressive term, but in linguistics this type of word formation is called ablaut reduplication or ablaut-motivated compounding.

See articles of vowel harmony and apophony.

(This is no flim-flam ;-)


In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, April 2, 2012 4:03:44 AM

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There's nothing wishy-washy about a bit of hanky-panky!



Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Shivanand
Posted: Monday, April 2, 2012 4:49:12 AM

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These are called rhyming duplications. Invariably these words may not have any individual meaning or standing.

This set is for Rogermue:
Arty-farty
Boogie-woogie
Chick-flick
Chock-a-block
Gang-bang
Eency-weency
Fuddy-duddy
Fuzzy-wuzzy
Hanky-panky
Happy-clappy
Harum-scarum
Heebie-jeebies
Helter-skelter
Higgledy-piggledy
Hob-nob
Hobson-jobson
Hocus-pocus
Hodge-podge
Hoity-toity
Hokey-pokey
Hubble-bubble
Hugger-mugger
Hurly-burly
Itsy-bitsy/itty-bitty
Jeepers-creepers
Lardy-dardy
Lovey-dovey
Mumbo-jumbo
Namby-pamby
Nitty-gritty
Okey-dokey
Pell-mell
Raggle-taggle
Razzle-dazzle
Rumpy-pumpy
Shilly-shally
Teenie-weenie
Topsy-turvy
Walkie-talkie
Willy-nilly

Cheers!

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन। मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते संगोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥
UlyssesSGrant
Posted: Monday, April 2, 2012 12:28:13 PM
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The words are called reduplicated idioms (terms, phrases, words, etc.) or reduplicatives; the process of forming them is called reduplication. Rhyming reduplication (as chick-flick) is one subset of reduplication. Other subsets include ablaut (as wishy-washy) and exact (as choo-choo).

The Phrase Finder article: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/reduplication.html
About.com article: http://grammar.about.com/od/rs/g/redupterm.htm

Another, apparently older, term for such words is ricochet word. The term is mentioned in a 19th-century reference book: http://www.bartleby.com/81/6382.html
rogermue
Posted: Monday, April 2, 2012 12:58:04 PM

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Hi Shivanand,

thanks a lot for the beautiful list. How did you manage to get such a collection? I hoped for some more words of this kind, but such a collection is top.

To USG
Excellent links!
Subrider618
Posted: Monday, April 2, 2012 4:35:09 PM
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Regarding the reduplicated ablauts (hanky-panky, itsy-bitsy, etc.) we must take a warning from the past, and never overuse them. I'm recalling the movies and popular writings of England and then America in the post-WWI era. It became a popular, if not clever, game to find little rhymes and variations of a word and use the distortion to bring attention. (I sound like an old fuddy-duddy here - [American]... But it's a spring lamb, I am [British - and yet, Dr. Seuss was an American.]) And who can forget the character whose likeness later populated every social grouping for so long? I refer to the man or woman or child (we are ALL guilty Shhh ) who could never resist mucking about with peoples' names? There was "Hey, Larry-Scary!" or "Good morning, Bruce-on-the-loose!" This awful practice may have grown out of the childhood neighborhood and school games of such cruelty, whereby any differentiation from a mythical norm brought on the wit of a local half-wag who would label the unfortunate one in a way that always seemed to last for exactly 1.6875 school years, after dividing by age and multiplying by grade level (again, this was the American custom; in Britain, the math was metric and easier to remember.)

Anyway - language can be the bomb. And that's to be taken in as many ways as can be listed in the L.O.C.

"At the limits of the imagination, we learn that all limits are imaginary." - "LEGEND OF THE DUELIST" 1993
jacobusmaximus
Posted: Tuesday, April 3, 2012 6:55:27 AM

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Jyrkkä Jätkä wrote:
I don't know if there is a more expressive term, but in linguistics this type of word formation is called ablaut reduplication or ablaut-motivated compounding.

See articles of vowel harmony and apophony.

(This is no flim-flam ;-)


A Scottish nursery song:

My wee cuddly-wuddly,
Rosy-posie
Nickety-pickety lamb.(gamboling lamb)
My wee daurlin, sweeter then jeely or jam.
My wee deary
Don't be weary
Todle aw yer lain, (take your first steps)
And don't forget, you're Mammy's pet,
And my wee wean.(infant)

JJ's 'ablaut-motivated compounding' has just destroyed forever my happy childhood memories!



I remember, therefore I am.
rogermue
Posted: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 1:25:03 AM

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Fortunately I have found a special book about English word-formation in my book-shelves again that I thought hidden away somewhere in a garage. There are too many books in my rooms and I have to put them in two rows one behind the other on the shelf. So I haven't seen this book for years.

The book is Hans Marchand, The Categories and Types of Present-Day English Word-Formation, 1969.

The word-type wishy-washy, hanky-panky is called by Marchand 'ablaut and rime combinations' or 'ablaut and rime gemination.
Marchand has 11 pages about this word-type. In addition to the long list above he has many other examples of this type.
Just a few of them:

claptrap
flubdub
humdrum
peepie-creepie
ragtag
ramjam
rumble-tumble
slangwhang
flibberty-gibberty
holus-bolus
hootchie-kootchie
hurdy-gurdy
loco-foco
mokemoke
powwow
sacky-dacky
tootsie-wootsie
etc
etc

I have found in a novel
chow-chow - familiar slang, from Chinese, for food. Pidgin English.
chuckc4th
Posted: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 2:25:37 PM
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Some other reduplicatives I did not see listed above:

Chop-socky (how my father refered to any version of 'hand to gland' combat like 'kung fu' or 'ju jitsu')
yo-yo (once a toy fad, now a rapper greeting)
hacky-sack (a later toy fad)
abra cadabra (magician incantation)
bibbity bobbity (fairy godmother from Cinderella)
mish mash
pish posh
bye-bye
GeorgeV
Posted: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 2:57:30 PM

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@ roger & chuck above - powwow and abracadabra are not English formations

Brain-washing starts in the cradle. - Arthur Koestler
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 3:19:34 PM

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flim-flam


In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
chuckc4th
Posted: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 3:23:29 PM
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Pow wow commonly used in AE as is the French synonym rendevous and both would be understood by an AE speaker despite their derivation. I was not so worried about the derivation as the membership in the class of reduplicatives.

Some other reduplicatives:
holy moley
trackie daks (sweat pants)
RubyMoon
Posted: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 5:54:36 PM
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( These may not be technically classified as reduplicative...)


rub dub
rub-a-dub
reelin' feelin'
movin' groovin'
rockin' rollin'
rollin' strollin'
bing bang
flip flop
splishin' splashin'

splish splash -
http://youtu.be/AdLGhMLvAuQ
dingdong
Posted: Thursday, April 5, 2012 2:46:28 AM
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Shivanand, you are an admirable ablaut-motivated compounder.
rogermue
Posted: Thursday, April 5, 2012 6:30:41 AM

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I think the names of this class of words and how they are produced is not so important for me. The main thing: the words consist of two parts that are slightly changed or even similar as in the Chinese type 'chowchow' (I think that was it what I read for 'food').

The only reason I wanted to know some names for this word-class was to find some more information about these words and perhaps some lists. But Savindra has already provided such a list.

dingdong
Posted: Thursday, April 5, 2012 10:35:27 AM
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rogermue wrote:


The only reason I wanted to know some names for this word-class was to find some more information about these words and perhaps some lists. But Savindra has already provided such a list.



Plesse give credit where it's due; Shivanand (!!) provided the list! And a fine one it is!!
Hope1
Posted: Thursday, April 5, 2012 5:59:02 PM

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Off topic- this thread reminded me of an old song -

At first glance the song's refrain, as written on the sheet music, seems meaningless:

Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
A kiddley divey too, wouldn't you?

However, the lyrics of the bridge provide a clue:

If the words sound queer and funny to your ear, a little bit jumbled and jivey,
Sing "Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy."

With this aid, the refrain is quite easily comprehended, and the ear will detect the hidden message of the final line: "A kid'll eat ivy too, wouldn't you"


Every man has a right to his opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts. Bernard M. Baruch 1870-1965
leonAzul
Posted: Friday, April 6, 2012 2:33:36 AM

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Y'all are missing one of my favorites, "rusty dusty".

That's the part that's been sat on for so long that nothin' ever gets done.

"Make it go away, Mrs Whatsit," he whispered. "Make it go away. It's evil."
rogermue
Posted: Friday, April 6, 2012 2:34:59 AM

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dingdong wrote:
rogermue wrote:


The only reason I wanted to know some names for this word-class was to find some more information about these words and perhaps some lists. But Savindra has already provided such a list.



Plesse give credit where it's due; Shivanand (!!) provided the list! And a fine one it is!!

---
Oh, I'm sorry. I mixed up the names. - Yes, it is a fine list, indeed! Thanks again for the list, Shivanand!
Shivanand
Posted: Friday, April 6, 2012 8:44:38 AM

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Thanks dingdong for your kind words.(No more !!!!s)

Cheers!

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन। मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते संगोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥
chuckc4th
Posted: Saturday, April 21, 2012 3:27:16 PM
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Some others which came to mind:
Georgie Porgie (or alternatively Georgy Porgy from Mother Goose)
Rope-a-dope (in boxing, pretending to be trapped on the ropes, letting your opponent wear out throwing blocked punches)
Wooly Pully (sweater)

chuckc4th
Posted: Saturday, April 21, 2012 3:37:03 PM
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From school days past:
King Kong plays ping pong with his ding dong.
GeorgeV
Posted: Saturday, April 21, 2012 3:58:20 PM

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Dilly dally (if you're picklish)

Brain-washing starts in the cradle. - Arthur Koestler
excaelis
Posted: Saturday, April 21, 2012 4:59:26 PM

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Tovarish
Posted: Saturday, April 21, 2012 10:21:40 PM

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I would be rather miffed, if my 'hanky panky' was called 'whisy washy', cut to the quick actually!
excaelis
Posted: Sunday, April 22, 2012 12:07:52 AM

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Particularly if it came from a door-to-door salesman selling back-to-back tape for wall-to-wall carpet in Walla-Walla.

Sanity is not statistical
chuckc4th
Posted: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 5:34:01 PM
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A few more:
fancy-pants
funny-money
hungry-mungry
slice-n-dice
easy, pleasy, lemon squeezy
chuckc4th
Posted: Saturday, May 5, 2012 6:36:53 PM
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tooty fruity patootie
gaseous asseous
Tovarish
Posted: Sunday, May 6, 2012 4:30:07 AM

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pretty shitty

pell mell
Ray41
Posted: Sunday, May 6, 2012 8:15:53 AM

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rootin' tootin'. I believe that this originated/is used on the eastern seaboard of USA.
Means 'exciting'. I have only ever heard it in 'Cowboy movies'.

While I live I grow.
Tovarish
Posted: Monday, May 7, 2012 12:33:13 AM

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Certainly has a different meaning down here.
Tovarish
Posted: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 6:25:52 AM

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wacky weed
Romany
Posted: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 10:47:10 PM
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Tov - ah! Do you remember how the famous line "Tutti-fruity, I wanna rootie" used to make our elders snigger?
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 11:12:14 PM

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Hope you aint got too much willy-willy down there, Tov ;-)


In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
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