Chinese Words Are So Easy They Doubled Up

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:

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Duplicated 重叠式

doubled Chinese characters, Chinese Words Are So Easy They Doubled Up

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

doubled Chinese characters, Chinese Words Are So Easy They Doubled Up

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.

妈妈 māma

Mother

爸爸 bàba

Father

姐姐 jiějie

Older Sister

妹妹 mèimei

Younger Sister

哥哥 gēge

Older Brother

弟弟 dìdi

Younger Brother

太太 tàitai

Wife

奶奶 nǎinai

Paternal Grandmother

爷爷 yéye

Paternal Grandfather

姥姥 lǎolao

Maternal Grandmother (mostly a Northern dialect)

公公 gōnggong

Maternal Grandfather (rarely used anymore)

叔叔 shūshu

Uncle- Father’s brother

舅舅 jiùjiu

Uncle- Mother’s brother

宝宝 bǎobao

Baby

Indicating “All” Of Something

doubled Chinese characters, Chinese Words Are So Easy They Doubled Up

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.

人人 rénrén

Everyone

家家 jiājiā

All households

天天 tiāntiān

Every day

年年 niánnián

Every year

月月 yuèyuè

Every month

岁岁 suìsuì

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

Expressing Casualness

doubled Chinese characters, Chinese Words Are So Easy They Doubled Up

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

看看 kànkan

Have a look

试试 shìshi

Try for a moment

说说 shuōshuo

Speak for a moment

尝尝 chángchang

Have a taste

Adverbs

Duplicated words that function as adverbs are super useful & function just like any other adverb.

慢慢 mànmàn

Slowly

快快 kuàikuài

Quickly

白白 báibái

In vain, to no purpose, for nothing (e.g., “he

好好 hǎohāo

Thoroughly

常常 chángcháng

Often, frequently

明明 míngḿíng

Clearly, evidently

doubled Chinese characters, Chinese Words Are So Easy They Doubled Up
Compound Words
21 March , 2019
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