Spatial reduplication in Sicilian: lexicon or grammar?

Giuseppina Todaro, Fabio Montermini


This paper proposes a morphological treatment for a particular kind of total reduplication (TR) in Sicilian which does not seem to express any of the meanings generally attributed to this kind of constructs (plurality, emphasis, intensity, iterativity, etc.). Reduplication is considered as a particular subtype of compounding. Compounding itself, however, can be seen either as the outcome of a general cognitive ability to connect two words semantically by simply juxtaposing them (that we call C1), or as the output of a set of morphological patterns that are codified in the grammar of individual languages (C2). The same may be claimed to apply to reduplication, under the form of a parallel distinction between a R1 and a R2. Here, Sicilian TRs are considered as examples of R2, i.e. morphological derivational (lexeme-forming) strategies, creating either adverbs or adjectives.
The framework adopted is constructionist in the sense of Booij (2010). Sicilian TRs are therefore considered to instantiate generalizations made by speakers on sets of existing complex words with a systematic correlation between form and meaning. In particular, it is proposed to represent these TRs as constructional schemas ([XX]α) which, in their turn, are encompassed into larger constructions involving a semantically and syntactically related entity (in most cases expressed by a NP): [Y ℜ [XX]α]. The three patterns observed can be seen as subcases of a larger construction whose general function is to mark a localisation.
More precisely, Sicilian TRs are constructions whose function is to establish a spatial relation between a trajector (T) and a landmark (L). In two of the types, the reduplicated unit can be either a singular (U picciriddroT ioca casaL-casaL ‘The child plays all over the house’) or a plural (U caneT camina muntagniL-muntagniL ‘The dog walks in/through the mountains’) nominal form. The output of this kind of reduplication is an adverb. In a third type, the reduplicated unit can only be a plural nominal form, and the output functions as an adjective (cfr. A cammisaL è pirtusaT-pirtusaT ‘The shirt is full of holes’).
It is shown that the global semantic interpretation of the constructions in question is conditioned by the semantic features of each participant involved (the trajectory and the landmark) and by pragmatic factors. In particular, possible semantic nuances are: movement or static localization within the boundaries of the landmark, vague or incongruous localization, homogeneous distribution.


Reduplication; Spatial Semantics; Lexeme Formation; Sicilian; Construction Morphology

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