[Ads-l] Query on appositive nouns

Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at MST.EDU
Fri Aug 7 18:54:27 UTC 2015

I received the query below from another listserv and immediately thought of English examples
of the type: (Young woman A): "Mike Tyson asked me out." (Young woman B, incredulously): "Mike Tyson Mike Tyson?!!"  Or: "It's the same old same old." 

Can anyone help him out with references to the literature on this topic in English? It may serve as good background information for his thesis.

Gerald Cohen 
Missouri University of Science & Technology
cc. Cammeron Girvin 

From: Cammeron Girvin [cgirvin at berkeley.edu]
Sent: Friday, August 07, 2015 12:50 PM
To: SEEFA at LSV.UKY.EDU; slavicling at utlists.utexas.edu
Subject: appositive nouns in folk texts

Dear colleagues (with apologies for cross-posting),

I’m writing a dissertation on the linguistic patterns of South Slavic folk songs, and I’ve encountered a number of instances of a peculiar structure. Essentially, this consists of two appositive nouns, often appearing in transcription with a dash between the two. They are either two words with the same meaning but different roots, as in Bulgarian:

Ой те тебе, пътниче-друмниче — ‘Oh, you, traveler-traveler’
Че ний сме немци-германци — ‘For we are the Germans–Germans'

or two nouns where one is more general and one is more specific:

вземайте пушки-маузери — ‘take your guns-Mauser.guns’
ожени се за една мома унгарка — ‘he married a maiden-Hungarian.woman’

(These are from WWII Partisan songs.)

I’m wondering to what extent such a phenomenon is encountered in traditions of other languages and genres. More critically, I’m hoping to find out whether there’s some sort of accepted term for such a device that would lead me to other scholars’ analyses of the phenomenon. It’s occurred to me that a few English diminutive formations like “puppy dog” and “bunny rabbit” do this, but I’m unaware of any formal analyses of such structures.

Any leads that would help me link this to a broader discussion would be most welcome!


Cammeron Girvin
Ph.D. Candidate
UC Berkeley, Slavic Languages & Literatures
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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