Reduplicated Compounds in Turkish?

Bruce Allen writes:

Oedipus Schmoedipus — so long as he loves his mother.

Years and years ago, I had a professor of Greek who said that this particular kind of reduplicated rhyming compound (schm-) originated not in Yiddish, but in Turkish.

I don’t find anything to substantiate this and he died years ago, but I figure if anyone can shed light on it, it’s LH readers, if not yourself.

I can’t shed light myself, so I turn it over to the assembled illuminators.

Comments

  1. I don’t know if this is what the professor of Greek was thinking about, but Turkish has a structurally similar kind of reduplication, in which the extra doohickey added to the reduplicant is an m- rather than a schm-, and the meaning is something like “X, and things like that.” So ‘kitap mitap’ means ‘books and the like’. It’s sometimes called “m-reduplication” in the literature on Turkish, and it’s apparently restricted to a colloquial register.

  2. Christopher Straughn says:

    Turkish has intensifying reduplication, e.g. kırmızı ‘red’, kıpkırmızı ‘blood red’ or siyah ‘black’, simsiyah ‘jet black’. This kind of reduplication only ever intensifies, never deprecates, and it only every applies to the first syllable, not the whole word. (You could say siyah-siyah to mean ‘really black’, but it’s not much different from English black-black used as a clarifying device.) Turkish furthermore dislikes initial consonant clusters, which rules out ‘schm-‘. I say this is Yiddish through and through.

  3. Some discussion of the distribution, including Turkic m-, in Wikipedia, s.v. Shm-reduplication.

  4. My favorite Turkish m-reduplication: Kültür mültür yok!

  5. My favourite Turkish m-reduplication: Stassen Mtassen.

  6. Interesting theory from the LL post:

    Yitskhok Niborski (personal communication) hypothesizes that the archetype for shm-reduplication in Yiddish is the collocation tate shmate ‘father shmather/rag’, which he states was already in use more than 150 years ago in European Yiddish communities. It would have been used, hadds, by an embittered wife against the man who provided her with children but not with an income. In this case shmate is an independent lexical item meaning ‘rag’, but it may have provided the vehicle for reanalysis as an echo formation.

  7. Yiddish schm-reduplication must be independent of Turkish m-reduplication.

    The latter kind of reduplication (not deprecatory like Yiddish, but giving the meaning of “X and the like”) is also found in Persian, Kurdish, Armenian, most of not all of the other Turkic languages, Hindi/Urdu, Punjabi, Nepali, Bengali, Tamil, Macedonian (and other Balkan languages)…

  8. There’s a fabulous book about shm-reduplication in Yiddish and its connections to m-reduplication in Turkic, Mongolian and many other languages:
    Southern, Mark 2005. Contagious Couplings: Transmission of Expressives in Yiddish Echo Phrases. Westport, Conn.: Praeger.
    M-reduplication also occurs (as a borrowing from Turkic) in Georgian, Laz, and Bulgarian.

  9. Urdu has two forms. One is informal with a nonsense rhyming word,
    e.g. coke-shoke is an informal way of saying coca-cola.

    In formal speech, one can say kaala-syah for black and laal-surukh for red in which both words are actual words.

  10. Развод у таджикской семьи.

    Судья-что дома есть?

    Муж,-ну там диван-миван, телевизор-мелевизор, кравать-мравать, кавёр-мавёр, картин-партин, ну разный что есть дома.

    Судья,- делить -мелить будем, тебе миван ей диван, тебе мавёр ей ковёр, тебе мравать ей кровать.

    Муж,- Э!!! ты судья или мудья?
    Судья,- Э!!! у нас такой закон макон, панимаешь?

  11. “Какой-такой павлин-мавлин?”

    https://youtu.be/tEnQ9cIyEVc?t=202

  12. J.W. Brewer says:

    I was thinking of the separate English phenomenon (presumbly not Yiddish-influenced) of things like “hodge-podge” or “higgeldy-piggeldy,” where although h/p alternation is one pattern (see also “hokey pokey” etc), there are lots of other possibilities, unlike the apparent invariant schm- or invariant m- of Yiddish/Turkish. A list from elsewhere on wikipedia includes “razzle-dazzle, super-duper, boogie-woogie, teenie-weenie, walkie-talkie, hoity-toity, wingding, ragtag, easy-peasy, hurdy-gurdy.”

  13. I knew about the reduplication for intensifying colours in Turkish, but not about m-reduplication. Kitap mitap – so lovely! And I was feeling rather depressed.

  14. My thanks to the illuminators. I knew this was the right place to come.

  15. There was some discussion of the topic here, with references:

    http://blog.bulbul.sk/2009/06/shm.html

  16. That’s a great thread until the spammers take over. Hey, bulbul, time to do some housecleaning, or at least close off commenting!

  17. I wonder if Polish czary-mary (more or less = hokus-pokus, parodying a magical incantation) only accidentally shows the Turkish pattern. We also have kogel-mogel, a dessert made from whipped eggs (it has similar names in Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Yiddish and possibly elsewhere), and kaszka-maszka, a nursery-room distortion of kasza manna, a kind of farina used to make hot cereal.

    There should be a convenient name for the hocus pocus phenomenon — the psycholinguistic process that makes phonological stuff self-organise into rhyming pairs, like those North English sheep-counting systems derived from Brittonic numerals:

    yan, tan,
    tethera, pethera
    pimp,
    sethera, lethera,
    hovera, covera,
    dik.

  18. I learned it as dovera dik, with the same alliteration as pethera pemp.

  19. Can confirm that this also exists in Kurdish and Persian. Heard it a lot growing up.

    Here’s a clip of journalist Christopher de Bellaigue interviewing Ardeshir Zahedi, former Iranian Ambassador to the US and son of General Fazlollah Zahedi. The interview is part of a documentary about Iran and Britain and it deals with the ’53 Iranian coup d’état and removal of Mossadegh.

    Ardeshir Zahedi refuses to acknowledge the coup d’état and believes it was an uprising by the people…

    In reference to documentary evidence of the coup, he dismisses the CIA narrative that de Bellaigue refers to and says it’s all nonsense and that there are two histories, one written by a “Woodhouse, Poodhouse, and the other Roosevelt”…

    https://youtu.be/BTO_0n_8uFc?t=41m

  20. the reduplication for intensifying colours in Turkish

    Not only colours: In Tatar, eg, salqın means “cold”, and sap-salqın, “bitter cold’.

  21. There is probably a tendency in Russian (and judging by Piotr Gąsiorowski’s comment in Polish as well) to turn suitably sounding compounds into rhyming pairs when imitating children’s speech or just for laughs. That’s what gives us карла-марла out of Karl Marx etc.

  22. At the following link, there is a nice list of the intensified adjectives of Turkish that were mentioned above:

    http://www.turkishlanguage.co.uk/intadjlist.htm

  23. I learned it as dovera dik, with the same alliteration as pethera pemp.

    The initial *f of Germanic ‘four’ and the initial *d of Slavic and East Baltic ‘nine’ are usually attributed to the influence of ‘five’ and ‘ten’, respectively, in rhythmic serial counting. It has also been hypothesised that the initial *s of PIE ‘six’ was added to make ‘six’ alliterate with ‘seven’. The unusual final stress of *septḿ̥ may in turn echo that of ‘eight’. Quite certainly Slavic *sedmь ‘7’ has influenced *osmь ‘8’ (thus also in Baltic: Lith. septynì, aštuonì).

  24. David Marjanović says:

    kogel-mogel

    Compare Kugelmugel

  25. “Карла-Марла” is probably a variation on the genitive, “Карла Маркса”, which occurs when something is named after Marx, such as a street, a factory, or a “house of culture.” Just replace “ks” with “l” and you get Karla-Marla. Now, “karla” is a dated variant of “karlik,” a dwarf. In Pushkin’s Ruslan and Lyudmila, this is how the dwarf Chernomor is referred to. Since Chernomor’s other distinguishing feature is a grotesquely long beard, “karla” brings up the image of a bearded dwarf.

    Also consider фигли-мигли, “tricks,” attested in the 19th century, probably from Polish, and шуры-муры, “flirting, a love affair,” of about the same vintage, probably from “cher amour.”

    And this bit from Khlebnikov’s Razin’s Longboat (1921). The rebellious Don Cossack leader is about to sacrifice the captive Persian princess to the river Volga:

    К богу-могу эту куклу!
    Девы-мевы, руки-муки,
    Косы-мосы, очи-мочи!

  26. January First-of-May says:

    kaszka-maszka

    Any relation to каша-малаша in Russian?

  27. Trond Engen says:

    Alexai K.: Now, “karla” is a dated variant of “karlik,” a dwarf. In Pushkin’s Ruslan and Lyudmila, this is how the dwarf Chernomor is referred to. Since Chernomor’s other distinguishing feature is a grotesquely long beard, “karla” brings up the image of a bearded dwarf.

    So Karlamarla is the mythic ancestor of Lenin, Stalin and Trotski.

  28. Trond Engen says:

    (Thanks to my son for that.)

  29. I’ve heard gogl mogl in Israel as something like eggnog, rather than a dessert. I think singers are supposed to drink it.

    In one of Wodehouse’s stories there’s “Nimshi, son of Bimshi”, as a misremembered obscure biblical character. (Nimshi, Jehu’s grandfather, does not in fact have his father recorded in the Bible.)

  30. The Kogel mogel entry in Wikipedia says that the number googol (whence the name of a popular search engine), “coined by the 9-year-old nephew of Edward Kasner, of Jewish origin, originates with the thick texture of Gogle Mogle.” And, that Humpty Dumpty (another reduplicte) is Goggelmoggel in German.

  31. January First-of-May says:

    The origin of googol is traditionally associated with Barney Google (spelled thusly), a popular comic character at the time (1920 – contrary to popular belief, the word was named then and not in 1938).
    It’s not entirely clear where that one comes from, either, but, again, the traditional explanation (originating from the comic itself) connects it with the expression googly eyes, formerly goggly eyes (same word as goggles “a kind of eye-glasses”), and I forgot what it goes back to before that.
    I’ve never seen the “Gogle Mogle” version before – and it doesn’t sound likely.
    (And, for what it’s worth, I do not believe that Milton Sirotta (1911-1981) – the nephew in question – was ethnically Jewish either – though for all I know he might have been; don’t really know either way.)

    In Russian, by the way, гоголь-моголь is also a kind of sweet egg-based drink traditionally said to be given to singers. Don’t know much else about it, however.
    That said, I quite like the idea of calling Humpty Dumpty as in the Alice character “Гоголь Моголь” – perhaps the translator of the relevant section could even fit in a Nikolai Gogol reference!
    (The traditional Russian translation, as in Demurova, is Шалтай-Болтай; I forgot what the other translators called him, unfortunately.)

  32. Google Muggle

  33. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/upouusi

    Finnish:
    brand new
    splitter ny

  34. Also consider фигли-мигли, “tricks,” attested in the 19th century, probably from Polish…

    Yep, it’s figle-migle here.

    The Sten’ka Razin quote is intriguing. Echo-compounding with m- in the second member (to mean ‘and the like; etc.’) is found in a number of Turkic languages, including Crimean Tatar. Is it possible that this “m-reduplication” spread from Tatar into Slavic? Its presence outside of Turkic (e.g. in Abkhaz and Armenian) suggests some kind of areal expansion. I’ll have to ask Marek Stachowski — it’s the kind of stuff he might find interesting.

  35. In Russian, by the way, гоголь-моголь is also a kind of sweet egg-based drink traditionally said to be given to singers.

    Polish kogel-mogel (standard spelling) or kogiel-mogiel (my pronunciation) often consist of just yolks and sugar (used for treating a sore throat), but there are also more elaborate recipes. My grandmothers prepared it as a simple treat for kids: the yolks were ground with sugar plus some freshly squeezed lemon juice, and then gently mixed with the whites whisked stiff. I don’t know how old the word is, but it can be found in 19th-century dictionaries (also as gogielmogiel).

  36. Sten’ka Razin was a well known polyglot. Engelbert Kaempfer says he could speak eight languages. Russian sources mention specifically that Razin spoke Tatar and Kalmyk.

    No wonder he picked up m-duplication

  37. Of course it’s actually Khlebnikov speaking, not Razin, but then Khlebnikov himself was born in Kalmykia. Kalmyk also has numerous echo-compounds like ükr-mükr ‘cattle and stuff like that’, šikr-mikr ‘assorted sweets’.

    I have now found a very careful discussion of this phenomenon (including its diffusion by contact):

    Thomas Stoltz. 2008. Total reduplication vs. echo-word formation in language-contact situations, in: Peter Siemund & Noemi Kintana, Language contact and contact languages, pp. 107-134, Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

  38. J.W. Brewer says:

    The wiki article linked above on “Kogel mogel” claims an etymological influence on the American exclamation “Great Googly Moogly!” (which means something akin to “Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat” or “Heavens to Murgatroyd” etc etc), although wiktionary gives a totally different proposed etymology from Japanese “kokuri mokuri.” https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/googly-moogly

  39. Don’t pull any фигли-мигли in the Piggly Wiggly!

  40. I have heard one genuine example of “mish-mosh, shmish-mosh” (or the homophonous “mish-mosh, shmish-shmosh”) in conversation.

  41. The family left Kalmykia when Khlebnikov was six but the lower Volga with its steppes is a major theme in his work. He also wrote two poems that show some influence of Kalmyk epics. But in Razin’s speech, Khlebnikov isn’t seeking a simple “ethnic” effect: the echo words add meaning. Бог-мог can be read as a powerful god. Очи-мочи, as teary eyes. Руки-муки: “hands” rhyme with “torments.” Девы-мевы: it’s not immediately obvious to a Russian reader but мева (with a non-palatalized m) means “gull” in Ukrainian (marked “dialectal”) and some other Slavic languages. Khlebnikov borrowed freely from Ukrainian and there are several references to Ukrainian Cossacks in the poem. The only m-reduplication I can’t decipher is косы-мосы.

  42. upouusi, supisuomalainen

    Also tipotiessään ‘gone for good’, typötyhjä ‘completely empty’, täpötäysi ‘full to the brim’, ypöyksin ‘all alone’.

    And that’s just one particularly artificial alliteration device. Similar expressions built from regular lexemes would number in the hundreds… which already suggests that looking for rhyming slang within Finnish will not get far.

  43. Девы-мевы. This would work in Polish very well. Not only do we have mewa for ‘seagull’, but additionally the diminutive mewka is an informal word for a port-town prostitute. Dziewki-mewki would have just the right ring in the circumstances of the poem.

    Mewa is of course of German origin (Möwe, cf. older English mew). The Polish cognate of the Russian ‘seagull’ word, czajka, refers to a different bird, the lapwing (Russian чибис). Chekhov’s Чайка has sometimes been rather absurdly (mis)translated as Czajka. But I digress.

  44. Kalmyk also has numerous echo-compounds like ükr-mükr ‘cattle and stuff like that’, šikr-mikr ‘assorted sweets’

    The use of expressions like үхэр мүхэр ‘cattle and stuff’ is extremely common in spoken Mongolian.

  45. Trond Engen says:

    So maybe *Tongu Mongu is Pre-Proto-Turkic or something for “the Tungusians and their allies”.

  46. David Marjanović says:

    …That would be nothing short of ingenious if it explained the final -l. Some kind of misparsing of a plural *tongu-mongu-lar? …Oh, the -s would still need to be explained.

  47. Trond Engen says:

    I don’t think the -s was part of the oldest form of the name. The variability of attested forms of ‘Mongol’ is probably a greater obstacle. At least to me.

  48. There is an ethnonym Tsongol (clan among Buryats and northern Khalkhas).

    Tsongol-Mongol would work perfectly

  49. -That would be nothing short of ingenious if it explained the final -l. Some kind of misparsing of a plural *tongu-mongu-lar? …

    *lar is Turkic plural. Mongolian plural ending is usually *uud, however, it is thought that early Mongol plural ending was*uul.

    The theory that *ol in “Mongol” actually represents plural ending “uul” is very politically incorrect.

    It would imply that “Mongol” means either “monsters” or “idiots” (from singular forms “mangas” – ‘monster’ or “manguu” – ‘idiot’)

    Such derogatory names are by no means unusual as Mongol tribal names go, but it would take a very bold linguist to make such suggestion nowadays.

  50. David Marjanović says:

    Tsaagan mangas, the misspelled white monster.

    (Its skeleton is white, as bones generally are in the red rocks of Mongolia.)

    either “monsters” or “idiots”

    The Russians are monsters in most languages of Siberia because their name happens to have merged with rākṣasa.

  51. Names for Russians in Siberian languages are fairly straightforward phonetic approximations borrowed from west to east direction.

    Roughly – western Finnic ‘Rootsi ‘Swede’ > eastern Finnic > Rotsi ‘Russian’ > Komi “Ruch” ‘Russian’ > Nenets ‘Lutsa’ > Evenki ‘Lucha’ > Manchu ‘Locha’ > Chinese ‘Locha’

    Decision to write “Locha” as 羅剎 Luó shā (from Sanskrit rākṣasa) was made deliberately as part of propaganda effort for Qing China’s war with Russia in 1680s.

    Of course, immediately after signing peace of Nerchinsk, the term had to be abandoned, since it would be very awkward to try to explain to the people that we’ve just made peace with these demons and now they are our esteemed trade partners…

  52. January First-of-May says:

    I now wonder whether Udmurt ӟуч and/or Yakut нууча, both meaning “Russian” (as I happened to find out from a discussion about a Soviet “rare ethnicity” scam – fascinating story!) are related to somewhere in that chain… both have about the right ending, but I can’t make sense of the initial consonant in either.

  53. Udmurt and Komi are very close related languages, so the word is the same.

    Yakut нууча (in some dialects also лууча) is from Evenki luucha (pronounced in some Evenki dialects and in Even as n’uucha)

  54. By the way, Tlingit Indians in Alaska call Russians “Anóoshi”

    I wonder if it’s connected with Yakut “nuucha”

  55. Crippen’s Tlingit dictionary proposes “(из) алюший ‘(from) the Aleutians’ ?”

  56. The Yakut etymology sounds more likely.

  57. *r- to ӝ /dʐ/ (normally) ~ ӟ /dʑ/ (when followed by another alveolo-palatal) is one of the more distinctive features separating Udmurt from Komi.

  58. But there were no Yakuts in Alaska.

  59. Yeah, but there were presumably contacts across the water. I dunno, I guess it’s not all that probable, but I don’t like “(из) алюший.”

  60. Crippen apprently doesn’t either, so he put a question mark after it.

    This book, Anóoshi Lingít Aaní Ká / Russians in Tlingit America : The Battles of Sitka, 1802 and 1804 by Dauenhauer, Dauenhauer and Black, might be a good place to look for an answer, but Crippen has probably looked there already. It seems like an amazing book anyway.

  61. Significant part of Russian presence in Alaska was formed by Siberian natives, including Yakuts.

    Russians used some Yakut words to describe native realities, for example, Tlingit chiefs were called toions (Yakut word for petty chief) by Russians. So I wouldn’t be surprised if nuucha reached Alaska too.

  62. There you go!

  63. Better! But still not completely satisfying. Russians picking up exotic words and applying them to other exotic people is one thing (like English canoe or wigwam). However the Russians would not have called themselves nuucha. What we would need is some evidence that Yakuts conversed with the Tlingit and used Yakut words in their speech.

    Another question which I can’t answer is why the Yakut final a would become Tlingit i.

  64. David Marjanović says:

    P. 45 of this MA thesis:

    Зап.-эвен. нʼуут / эвен. нʼу̇у̇чи̇ / эвенк. лууча ~ лооча ~ нууча ~ нʼууча ~ чуча / нег. лооча / сол. лу̇у̇т // удэг. луса / ороч. лу̇ча // уйль. луча, О ~ луутʼа / ульч. лу̇ча / нан. лоча / усс. лоца / к.-урм. лоча // мань. лоча ‘демонʼ ~ ло ча id. ~ ракша id. // СС s.v. лӯча.
    Однако несомненно, что исторически первым является долгий гласный, потому что слово заимствовано из ненецкого лууца или доненецкого луъца ‘русскийʼ < прибалтийско-финского рооца- ~ руоца- (Янхунен 1997, с. 160).
    Приведенное в СС мань. лоча по происхождению не относится сюда, хотя по-следнее слово иногда и употреблялось для обозначения русских (Захаровъ 1875,s.v. лоча). Как ясно из вариантов ло ча ~ ракша, мань. лоча заимствовано из китайского 羅剎 luóchà ‘демонʼ < санскрит रकः rakṣaḥ (Янхунен 1997, 161–163).

    СС is a comparative dictionary of the Tungusic languages. Janhunen (1997) is a paper titled “The Russian monsters: on the etymology of an ethnonymic complex” on pp. 159–165 of volume 2 (non-searchable PDF with 331 pp.) of Studia Etymologica Cracoviensia; that paper mentions that the pun spread to Buryat, where the common Mongolic “monster” word acquired the additional meaning “Russian”, and reports from another source that the same “monsters” “in Dagur folklore ‘sometimes exhibit suspiciously Caucasian features'”.

  65. Mangad means Russian in Western Buryat, while in eastern Buryat it’s Orod.

    Interestingly, Kalmyk also has mangad (маңhд), but it means Tatars, not Russians.

  66. David M.: Tsaagan mangas, the misspelled white monster.

    Hypercorrection by someone who knew that (Tarbosaurus) bataar was wrong?

  67. David Marjanović says:

    Most likely.

  68. “Not only do we have mewa for ‘seagull’, but additionally the diminutive mewka is an informal word for a port-town prostitute.”

    Funny. Among Russian speakers in Almaty I heard чайка ‘seagull’ used in a very similar context: a local girl who tries to ingratiate herself with a group of men at a bar or club for the sake of free drinks.

  69. J.W. Brewer says:

    In non-Turkish reduplication news, I had the pleasure of hearing on the radio this morning “The Oogum Boogum Song,” a Top 40 hit a half-century ago (by Brenton Wood) that has more recently fallen into lamentable obscurity.

  70. Trond Engen says:

    SF Reader: The theory that *ol in “Mongol” actually represents plural ending “uul” is very politically incorrect.

    It would imply that “Mongol” means either “monsters” or “idiots” (from singular forms “mangas” – ‘monster’ or “manguu” – ‘idiot’)

    Or maybe they all derive from the same word? I’ll revise my suggestion from *tongu mongu “Tungus et al.” to *tangu- mangu- “Us and Non-us”. Reinterpreted as a rhyming couplet*, the second element could specialize in meaning from “outsider” to either “troll”, “standard foreigner” or “unsophisticated person”.

    I have been thinking in similar way about al-arab and al-barab in North Africa, but that is even less likely.

    *) or in off-licence poetry: yeoman and no-man, homelings and roamlings, citoyens-mitoyens, Deutscher und Leutscher, mennesker og svensker.

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