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Aug 6, 2012
This week's theme
Reduplicatives

This week's words
chop-chop
froufrou
chichi
chin-chin
yada yada

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Here in Washington State we have a town named Walla Walla ("place of many rivers") from a Sahaptian language word walla, meaning river. Linguists call such repetition of a word reduplication.

Reduplication occurs when a word is formed by repeating another word, sometimes with a slight change in sound (for example, shilly-shally). This repetition may be used to indicate plurality, to intensify the idea, to convey the idea of "etc." and so on.

In many languages you might hear constructions that would literally translate as "New York City has many tall tall buildings" implying there are very tall skyscrapers in NYC. Or one might say, "Small small children were playing in the park" implying there were many tiny tots there. People are also named like this, such as the cellist of Chinese origin Yo-Yo Ma ("friendly-friendly").

While English is not averse to reduplication, we have borrowed words from other languages as well that show this tendency for reduplication.

chop-chop

PRONUNCIATION:
(chop-chop)

MEANING:
adverb: Quickly.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Chinese Pidgin English chop (fast). Pidgin is a simplified language that develops when two groups that do not have a language in common come in contact, usually for trade. Chinese Pidgin English was used in ports in southern China. The word pidgin is said to have been formed from the Chinese pronunciation of the word business. Earliest documented use: 1834.

USAGE:
"Those special courts that prosecuted cases chop-chop during the spectacle can be revived."
Bareng-Batho Kortjaas; Dope-heads Must Be Smoked-out of Our Soccer Stadiums; The Sunday Times (Johannesburg, South Africa); Sep 19, 2010.

See more usage examples of chop-chop in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Love: a temporary insanity, curable by marriage. -Ambrose Bierce, author and editor (1842-1914)

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