A Systematic Review of Refrains of Lithuanian Folk Songs

  • Jurga Trimonytė Bikelienė
Keywords: refrain, song, onomatopoeic refrains, quasi-lexical (motivated and unmotivated) refrains, quasi-derivational refrains, combinational refrains, periphery of the lexis system


The characteristics of the song language have always been a domain of interest to the representatives of different areas of philology, yet the linguistic expression of the refrains of Lithuanian folk songs has been given very little attention so far. Refrains are not well defined and for this reasons they are left out of the discussion of traditional grammar, although their linguistic expression frequently conforms to the rules of syllable and word formation of the Lithuanian language. Analysis of the characteristics of the structure and semantics of the subject material has led to the classification of refrains into the following four groups based on the method of their occurrence: (1) onomatopoeic refrains, (2) quasi-lexical (motivated and unmotivated) refrains, (3) quasi-derivational refrains, and (4) combinational refrains. The subject material is dominated by onomatopoeic refrains. Quasi-lexical refrains occur nearly ten times less frequently. Quasi-derivational refrains with endings similar to the formal derivational formative are quite rare, and combinational refrains are extremely scarce. Research efforts show that in order to obtain a complete picture of the periphery of the lexis system, it is necessary to focus on refrains, develop their classification, disclose the unique features of refrains and the qualities typical exclusively of them, which has never been addressed anywhere before.