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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Khumi elaborate expressions.

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This paper investigates the phenomenon of elaborate expressions (EEs) as manifested in Bangladesh Khumi, a language belonging to the Kuki-Chin branch of Tibeto-Burman. In strictly formal terms, Khumi EEs are quasi-reduplicative, compound-like structures consisting of an element which imparts meaning to the whole expression, and a second element which ranges from reduplicative template (e.g., mi-maay, elab(oration)-fire ‘fire’) to formally constrained nonce elements (srúng-sraaw, elab-tobacco ‘tobacco’), to otherwise meaningful elements which bear some semantic resemblance to their paired element (uy-klaay, dog-monkey ‘dog’). Consideration of the use of EEs in a large naturalistic text corpus suggest that their occurrence in Khumi encodes relatively expectable meanings associated with reduplicative structures, rather than simply being used for stylistic or aesthetic effect. EEs often appear to be involved in marking the intensified or distributed nature of the event, hardly surprising given the tendency for reduplication to code such categories cross-linguistically. More noteworthy, however, is the incidence of EEs in contexts where they indicate a more abstract nuance, attributed to the emotional intensity of what a speaker or narrator is expressing. EE use in these contexts may nevertheless be accounted for under the general rubric of intensification.

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