Surrey Typological Database on Defectiveness

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Baerman, Matthew, Dunstan Brown & Greville G. Corbett. 2009. Surrey Typological Database on Defectiveness. University of Surrey.

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The term 'defectiveness' refers to gaps in inflectional paradigms — specifically, gaps which do not appear to follow from natural restrictions imposed by meaning or function. The Latin noun for 'change' is a textbook example: bizarrely, it lacks nominative and dative singular forms, and has no genitive plural. In this sense it contrasts other nouns which do have forms associated with these combination of features and values. The fact that inflectional paradigms may have such anomalous gaps in them has been known since at least the days of the classical grammarians. Though the existence of defective paradigms is indisputable, few people could name more than a handful of examples.

The Surrey Typological Database on Defectiveness helps to expand our empirical knowledge of this intriguing phenomenon by examining the different types of defective paradigms according to various typological parameters. These include the word class defective lexemes belong to, the morphosyntactic features that characterize the missing forms, and whether gaps in the paradigm can be described in terms of an easily definable morphological category.


The database was created for the project 'A typology of defectiveness', funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council under grant number AH/D001579/1. This support is gratefully acknowledged.



Creators: Baerman, Matthew; Brown; Dunstan; Corbett, Greville G.;

Title: Surrey Typological Database on Defectiveness

Publisher: University of Surrey

Year: 2009