Contrastive focus reduplication

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This is a salad-salad, not a tuna salad.

Contrastive focus reduplication, also called lexical cloning or the double construction, is a type of syntactic reduplication found in some languages. Doubling a word or phrase – such as do you LIKE-like him? – can indicate that the prototypical meaning of the repeated word or phrase is intended.[1] U.S. writer Paul Dickson coined the term word word in 1982 to describe this phenomenon.[2]

The first part of the reduplicant bears contrastive intonational stress.

Contrastive focus reduplication in English can apply not only to words but also to multi-word phrases such as idioms, or to word stems without their inflectional morphemes.

  • I talked to him that week, but I didn’t TALK-TO-HIM-talk-to-him.
  • In fact I barely talked to him. Not TALK-talked.[1]


The authors of the article that defined contrastive focus reduplication collected a corpus of examples in English.[1][3] These include:

  • "I'll make the tuna salad and you make the SALAD-salad."
  • "and you think you know me? The ME-me?"
  • "I’m up, I’m just not UP–up."[4]

The poem "After the Funeral"[5] by Billy Collins contains many examples of contrastive focus reduplication.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Ghomeshi, Jila; Jackendoff, Ray; Rosen, Nicole; Russell, Kevin (2004). "Contrastive focus reduplication in English (the salad-salad paper)" (PDF). Natural Language & Linguistic Theory. 22: 307–357. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  2. ^ McArthur, Tom (1992). The Oxford Companion to the English Language. Oxford University Press. p. 1127. ISBN 0-19-214183-X.
  3. ^ "Corpus of English contrastive focus reduplications". 30 May 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  4. ^ Liberman, Mark (June 11, 2007). "Contrastive focus reduplication in Zits". Language Log. This example from Ghomeshi et al. was used by the comic strip Zits.
  5. ^ ""Elusive" and "After the Funeral" by Billy Collins" (PDF). Boulevard Magazine. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-01-16. Retrieved 2014-10-26.
  • Dray, Nancy. (1987). Doubles and modifiers in English. (Unpublished M.A. thesis, University of Chicago).
  • Horn, Laurence. (1993). Economy and redundancy in a dualistic model of natural language. In S. Shore & M. Vilkuna (Eds.), SKY 1993: Yearbook of the Linguistic Association of Finland (pp. 31–72).
  • Wierzbicka, Anna. (1991). Cross-cultural pragmatics: The semantics of human interaction. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.