Chinese Words Are So Easy They Doubled Up

Duplicated words are the easiest to understand

Word Structure: “Duplicated” 重叠式

This is part 7 “Duplicated Chinese Characters” of an 8-part series exploring all 7 types of Chinese compound words. Click below for the other parts:

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6 – Part 7 – Part 8

Duplicated 重叠式 Chinese Characters

Duplicated words are the easiest to understand; they are merely two morphemes that are the same doubled up. That said, the doubling of the morpheme can serve four different functions:

  1. Showing familiarity or affection
  2. Indicated “all of” something
  3. Expressing Casualness
  4. Adverbs

Familiarity or Affection

It shouldn’t be surprising that words expressing “familiarity” include most of the “family” related words. Note: The vast majority (if not all) of this type of duplicated Chinese Characters end in a 5th tone.

妈妈 māmaMother

爸爸 bàbaFather

姐姐 jiějieOlder Sister

妹妹 mèimeiYounger Sister

哥哥 gēgeOlder Brother

弟弟 dìdiYounger Brother

太太 tàitaiWife

奶奶 nǎinaiPaternal Grandmother

爷爷 yéyePaternal Grandfather

姥姥 lǎolaoMaternal Grandmother (mostly a Northern dialect)

公公 gōnggongMaternal Grandfather (rarely used anymore)

叔叔 shūshuUncle- Father’s brother

舅舅 jiùjiuUncle- Mother’s brother

宝宝 bǎobaoBaby

Indicating “All” Of Something

Duplicated Chinese Characters that indicate all of something

人 means “a person”, so 人人 means “every person.” These can apply to people, places, time, or measure words. For measure words, the noun the measure word applies to goes right after (examples below). Note: The majority of duplicated Chinese Characters that are expressing “all” of something do not end in the 5th tone.

人人 rénrénEveryone

家家 jiājiāAll households

天天 tiāntiānEvery day

年年 niánniánEvery year

月月 yuèyuèEvery month

岁岁 suìsuìEvery year (of one’s life)

Duplicated Chinese Characters – Measure Words

个个 gègè + Noun

Every + [noun that has 个 as a measure word, e.g. “room” 房间 fángjiān]

个个房间都非常干净 “Every room is very clean”

条条 tiáotiáo + Noun

Every + [noun that has 条 as a measure word, e.g. “road” 路 lù]

条条大路都通罗马 All roads lead to Rome

张张 zhāngzhāng + Noun

Every + [noun that has 张 as a measure word, e.g. “table” 桌子 zhuōzi]

张张桌子都需要人过来擦干净 All the tables need someone to come over and wipe them clean

Expressing Casualness

Duplicated Chinese Characters that express casualness are usually verbs. They indicate that doing the verb is a light suggestion or otherwise not a big deal.

看看 kànkanHave a look

试试 shìshiTry for a moment

说说 shuōshuoSpeak for a moment

尝尝 chángchangHave a taste

Duplicated Chinese Characters – Adverbs

Duplicated Chinese Characters that function as adverbs are super useful. They function just like any other Chinese adverb.

慢慢 mànmàn – Slowly

快快 kuàikuài – Quickly

白白 báibái – In vain, to no purpose, for nothing

好好 hǎohāo – Thoroughly

常常 chángcháng – Often, frequently

明明 míngḿíng – Clearly, evidently

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