The main aim of this paper is to underpin the connection between the semantic relationship binding the constituents of verbs and the formal and semantic properties of their reduplication in Sinitic. We first discuss in detail verbal and adjectival reduplication in Standard Mandarin, the best described Chinese language; we also collected data on adjectives, in order to compare them to verbs. Then, we analyze data from a convenience sample of twelve Chinese ‘dialects’, representing the eight major groups of Sinitic, comparing them to Mandarin. We show that whereas the ABAB reduplication pattern often has a (counter-iconic) diminishing meaning and appears as close(r) to syntax, being also sensitive to the aspectual properties of the base, the AABB pattern always has an increasing function, regardless of the word class of the base, and it is a phenomenon conditioned by morphological factors, being sensitive to the relation holding between the constituents of the base verb.
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