Word Structure: “Duplicated” 重叠式
This is part 7 of an 8-part series exploring all 7 types of Chinese compound word. Click below for the other parts:
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:
- Showing familiarity or affection
- Indicated “all of” something
- Expressing Casualness
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 word end in a 5th tone.
Maternal Grandmother (mostly a Northern dialect)
Maternal Grandfather (rarely used anymore)
Uncle- Father’s brother
Uncle- Mother’s brother
Indicating “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 words that are expressing “all” of something do not end in 5th tone.
Every year (of one’s life)
Duplicated 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
Duplicated words that express casualness are usually verbs. They indicate that doing the verb is a light suggestion or otherwise not a big deal.
Have a look
Try for a moment
Speak for a moment
Have a taste
Duplicated words that function as adverbs are super useful & function just like any other adverb.
In vain, to no purpose, for nothing (e.g., “he