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Reduplication and polyptotons in Latvian texts

Keywords: reduplication, polyptotons, Latvian folklore and mythology, Latvian literature
Language: In Latvian

The article is the first attempt to identify polyptotons — the subtype of reduplication used in Latvian folklore and literature texts. Polyptotons mean a type of lexical repetitions, which is practiced by changing the case or the tense form of adjoining words. In Latvian folklore (especially in mythical songs, puzzles, and spells), this means of expression has served as a magical reinforcement of what has been said, believing that by repeating the same word twice it becomes double-effective. In addition, until the introduction of spelling in folklore, polyptotons had an important mnemonic function, along with the constant word formulas.

As the written tradition (literature) developed, the importance of polyptotons gradually decreased. In the 19th century, polyptotons were used mainly in the works of writers who used the manner of expression characteristic to rural people, when depicting rural life. In the 20th and 21st centuries, the abovementioned type of lexical repetition has been used as a deliberate and frequent method: a) in children’s literature, simulating the language of children (Rainis, Vilis Plūdons, Anna Brigadere); b) in prose works dealing with prehistoric themes (Ilona Leimane); (c) in memoir literature (Kārlis Kundziņš); (d) in experimental works of poetry and prose, where an important role is attributed exactly to the lexical layer of artistic expression (Jānis Steiks, Valentīns Jākobsons).