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Defective Paradigms – Missing Forms and What They Tell Us - British Academy Scholarship Online
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Defective Paradigms: Missing Forms and What They Tell Us

Matthew Baerman, Greville G. Corbett, and Dunstan Brown


An important design feature of language is the use of productive patterns in inflection. In English, we have pairs such as ‘enjoy’ — ‘enjoyed’, ‘agree’ — ‘agreed’, and many others. On the basis of this productive pattern, if we meet a new verb ‘transduce’ we know that there will be the form ‘transduced’. Even if the pattern is not fully regular, there will be a form available, as in ‘understand’ — ‘understood’. Surprisingly, this principle is sometimes violated, a phenomenon known as defectiveness, which means there is a gap in a word's set of forms: for example, given the verb ‘forego’, many ... More

Keywords: language, productive patterns, inflectional rules, English, defectiveness, Classical grammarians, grammatical models, historical approach, statistical approach, theoretical approach

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2010 Print ISBN-13: 9780197264607
Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012 DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197264607.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Matthew Baerman, editor
Research Fellow, University of Surrey

Greville G. Corbett, editor
Distinguished Professor of Linguistics and Russian Language, University of Surrey; Fellow of the British Academy

Dunstan Brown, editor
Senior Lecturer in Linguistics, University of Surrey

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