The Surrey Suppletion Database

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Suppletion is a morphological phenomenon where different inflectional forms are not related phonologically. Mel'čuk defines it in the following way:

"For the signs X and Y to be suppletive their semantic correlation should be maximally regular, while their formal correlation is maximally irregular." (Mel'čuk 1994: 358)

Russian čelovek (человек) 'person', which has the plural ljudi (люди), is a typical instance of suppletion. Suppletion is found in many inflecting languages, and "increasingly ... is coming to be seen as a clue to the way in which the inflected forms of a word are related to each other paradigmatically ... and are stored in the memory" (Carstairs-McCarthy 1994: 4410). We have examined a range of genetically diverse languages, created a database, and used it to construct a typologically informed theory of suppletion.


The database was created for the project 'The notion 'possible word' and its limits: a typology of suppletion', funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board under B/RG/AN4375/APN10619. This support is gratefully acknowledged. Those primarily involved in the project were Dunstan Brown, Marina Chumakina, Greville Corbett and Andrew Hippisley. Several colleagues contributed their time and expertise on particular languages, and we are extremely grateful to them.

Database by Dunstan Brown, Marina Chumakina, Greville Corbett and Andrew Hippisley, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, United Kingdom.

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