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I've been using the two terms interchangeably. One of my assignments is asking me to identify cases of both suppletion and irregular inflection. I've been going over course notes/google to no avail--they seem like the same thing to me.

The only bit of difference is that one seems to have a more synchronic focus, and the other a more diachronic one...what's up with that?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

irregular inflection

a phonetically similar/same base

German die Herz 'heart' nom.sg. - des Herzens gen.sg., cf. das Ohr 'ear' nom.sg. - des Ohr(e)s gen.sg. (Wurzel 1990 :210)

English ox - oxen or mouse-mice (Bauer, Lieber and Plag 2013: 22)


Phonetically different bases (historically these forms belonged to different lexemes)

German gut 'good'- besser 'better'

English go - went

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Ah crystal clear! Thanks! –  RECURSIVE FARTS Feb 6 '14 at 6:06
I have a quick follow up question: is suppletion a form of irregular inflection? And are they both forms of allomorphy? –  RECURSIVE FARTS Feb 6 '14 at 7:34

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