Suppletivity (or is it suppletivism?)
Posted: 23 May 2010 06:01 AM   [ Ignore ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  267
Joined  2007-02-20

Suppletivity, such as in the following examples:

be, am, was, etc.
good, better, worse
parvus, minor, minimus (Latin)
bonus, melior, optimus (Latin)
malus, peior, pessimus (Latin)
sein, bin, war, etc. (German)
gut, besser, am besten (German)

seems to appear in words which have a more basic meaning and are obviously more frequently used than most other words. Do we know of any theories about the linguistic mechanisms in suppletivity?

[ Edited: 23 May 2010 10:57 PM by Senning ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 May 2010 01:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  429
Joined  2007-02-14

As far as the verbs are concerned, these are inflected forms of different (more or less) synonymous words. (Cf. NHG wesen > war, waren, gewesen, Dutch wezen > was, waren, geweest and NHG sein > sind, Dutch zijn). So there were different infinitives all meaning something like ‘to be’ of which various inflections got sort of combined. This just to explain the principle. A good etymological dictionary should be able to give you the details.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 May 2010 10:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  267
Joined  2007-02-20
Dutchtoo - 24 May 2010 01:17 PM

As far as the verbs are concerned, these are inflected forms of different (more or less) synonymous words. (Cf. NHG wesen > war, waren, gewesen, Dutch wezen > was, waren, geweest and NHG sein > sind, Dutch zijn). So there were different infinitives all meaning something like ‘to be’ of which various inflections got sort of combined. This just to explain the principle. A good etymological dictionary should be able to give you the details.

I did not ask whether suppletive verbs and adjectives combine several roots in their inflections. That is the name of the game. My question was if the observation that suppletivity occurs in a few, very basic and much used, words has a background in some linguistic law of when and where it occurs.

[ Edited: 25 May 2010 03:34 AM by Senning ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 May 2010 10:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  429
Joined  2007-02-14

I was afraid you were going to say that.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 May 2010 07:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  267
Joined  2007-02-20
Dutchtoo - 24 May 2010 10:50 PM

I was afraid you were going to say that.

Did you really think you could pacify me by answering a question I had not asked?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 May 2010 01:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2021
Joined  2007-02-19

Do we know of any theories about the linguistic mechanisms in suppletivity?

Wikipedia has an article purporting to give the answer to the above question, s.v. suppletion, which Wikipedia (and several on-line dictionaries) say is the answer to another of your questions, “....or is it suppletivism?”.

How reliable the Wikipedia article is, is not for me to say. It gives examples in English, Portuguese, Croatian, etc., and offers a few references.

Enjoy.

I think “suppletivity” is the tentative name given to a doctrine of Physical Fitness developed by a Dr. W. C. Gents, based partly on an earlier model (now discredited) entitled “Strength Through Heavy Breathing”. Dr. Gents apparently abandoned his research after developing a slipped disk and double hernia, and is currently busy inventing a new religion (details as yet unavailable, but revelations expected any time now) ;-)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 May 2010 11:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  267
Joined  2007-02-20
lionello - 25 May 2010 01:30 PM

Do we know of any theories about the linguistic mechanisms in suppletivity?

Wikipedia has an article purporting to give the answer to the above question, s.v. suppletion, which Wikipedia (and several on-line dictionaries) say is the answer to another of your questions, “....or is it suppletivism?”.

How reliable the Wikipedia article is, is not for me to say. It gives examples in English, Portuguese, Croatian, etc., and offers a few references.

Enjoy.

I think “suppletivity” is the tentative name given to a doctrine of Physical Fitness developed by a Dr. W. C. Gents, based partly on an earlier model (now discredited) entitled “Strength Through Heavy Breathing”. Dr. Gents apparently abandoned his research after developing a slipped disk and double hernia, and is currently busy inventing a new religion (details as yet unavailable, but revelations expected any time now) ;-)

Thanks for this fantastic reference. It makes great reading, but, alas, does not answer my question either Probably nobody has suggested a rational answer.

Profile