The development and typology of number suppletion in adjectives

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

This paper looks at the cross-linguistically rare phenomenon of suppletion in number in adjectives. I consider how such suppletion arises by looking at six known examples with a special focus on the Brittonic languages (Breton, Cornish and Welsh) which are discussed as an extended case study. Three generalisations are suggested on the basis of the typological study. First, adjectives denoting size (“small” and “big”) are at the centre of this phenomenon. Second, where the etymology of the adjectives is known, the plural member of the suppletive pair for “small” develops from a lexeme denoting something having been divided into or consisting of small parts. These lexemes can also be used with some singular nouns and in such cases their reference is to the component structure of the referent. Finally, adjectives with number suppletion tend to mark plural number consistently in environments in which plural marking is otherwise optional or rare.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDiachronica
Volume34
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)127-174
Number of pages48
ISSN0176-4225
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 6121 Languages

Cite this

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abstract = "This paper looks at the cross-linguistically rare phenomenon of suppletion in number in adjectives. I consider how such suppletion arises by looking at six known examples with a special focus on the Brittonic languages (Breton, Cornish and Welsh) which are discussed as an extended case study. Three generalisations are suggested on the basis of the typological study. First, adjectives denoting size (“small” and “big”) are at the centre of this phenomenon. Second, where the etymology of the adjectives is known, the plural member of the suppletive pair for “small” develops from a lexeme denoting something having been divided into or consisting of small parts. These lexemes can also be used with some singular nouns and in such cases their reference is to the component structure of the referent. Finally, adjectives with number suppletion tend to mark plural number consistently in environments in which plural marking is otherwise optional or rare.",
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The development and typology of number suppletion in adjectives. / Nurmio, Silva Mikaela.

In: Diachronica, Vol. 34, No. 2, 14.07.2017, p. 127-174.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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