Repeated words in linguistics

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petew83
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Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2005 6:55 pm

Repeated words in linguistics

Postby petew83 » Fri Jan 25, 2008 2:28 pm

What is the linguistic term for the phenonemon of repeated (though grammatically correct) words? To elaborate, what it is is demonstrated in this sentence. One identical word is paired and given two separate functions. There is obviously a parallel in music, where it is found more often due to the smaller vocabulary.

It would be fascinating to study the parallels between linguistic novelties and music in general.

TS
Posts: 168
Joined: Sun May 07, 2006 4:58 am

Re: Repeated words in linguistics

Postby TS » Sat Jan 26, 2008 3:57 am

petew83 wrote:To elaborate, what it is is demonstrated in this sentence.


Do you mean the case where the two words appear back to back? I think it only happens with words that have a wide applicability, like 'is'. Couldn't you also rearrange the sentence to be: "In this sentence is demonstrated what it is"? Does that sound right?

Is the example then of a word that sounds the same but has different meaning in different contexts? Parallels in music could be: a chord has different functions in different keys; a single tone has different functions in different keys, and in different phrases, and in different chords; a single phrase has different functions in different parts of the song, played over different chords, and so on.

One other aspect that makes those kinds of coincidences possible is the concept of 'it'. In language there is a word that sounds always the same, 'it', but its meaning is always different. It/'it' is like an empty container that can be filled with the meaning of any other word. Is there an 'it' in music?

djf
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Postby djf » Sat Jan 26, 2008 10:23 am

The words don't have to be such basic words as "is" and "it". For example, you could say that "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_buffalo_Buffalo_buffalo_buffalo_buffalo_Buffalo_buffalo). Although, that is somewhat of an extreme case. The closest music that I can think of to that sentence is Ravel's Bolero.

TS
Posts: 168
Joined: Sun May 07, 2006 4:58 am

Postby TS » Sat Jan 26, 2008 12:19 pm

A musical example that comes to my mind is David Bowie's "Man Who Sold The World". Here's a link to youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSnXjE66tvQ

The song begins with a simple guitar melody that repeats itself. The melody is A-A-G-A-Bb-A-G. Repeated on its own the meaning is unclear, but the chords in the background give it a new context and meaning every once in a while that creates a meaningful musical sentence, just like the buffalo sentence didn't make sense to me until I read the version on wikipedia that had the words marked to distinguish between different uses.

Listen to the end of the song if you want to hear a full demonstration of the repetition.


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