chapter  1
WORDS, WORDS, WORDS: A PRAGMATIC AND SOCIO- COGNITIVE VIEW OF LEXICAL REPETITION
A pragmatic and socio-cognitive view of lexical repetition
ByPeter Verdonk
Pages 25

There is no doubt that from our earliest childhood onward we find great pleasure in playing with the formal structures of language, and as this nursery rhyme illustrates abundantly, the use of lexical repetition appears to be central to this language game. Since this kind of childlore is deeply rooted in ancient superstitions, traditional tales, local customs, folk festivals and the like, and is characteristically still passed on through word of mouth, this simple rhyme furthermore seems to confirm the generally accepted belief that verbal repetition, including such elements as rhythm, metre and rhyme, has its origin in oral cultures. This, of course, raises the question how it is that in cultures in which literacy and the written word are predominant, these rhetorical devices still have a significant aesthetic and social function. For instance, in literary discourse the use of repetition may create thematic or symbolic patterns, while in the case of persuasive discourse like advertising or propaganda, it may lull us into a less critical attitude.