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Linguistic Typology

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Volume 18, Issue 3


Suppletive kin term paradigms in the languages of New Guinea

Matthew Baerman
  • Corresponding author
  • Surrey Morphology Group, Department of English and Languages, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH, United Kingdom
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Published Online: 2014-11-29 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/lingty-2014-0018


Kin terms in some languages have suppletive roots according to the person of the possessor, as in Kaluli na:la: ‘my daughter’, ga:la: ‘your daughter’ versus ida: ‘her/his daughter’. Suppletion is generally seen as a language-specific morphological peculiarity, but in this context there are a number of lexical and morphological similarities across languages, suggesting the motivation may also lie in the nature of kin terms themselves. We offer a typological assessment of suppletive kin terms through a case study of the languages of New Guinea, where the phenomenon appears to be particularly common.

Keywords: inflection; kin terms; morphology; New Guinea; person; possession; suppletion

About the article

Received: 2014-01-20

Revised: 2014-07-15

Published Online: 2014-11-29

Published in Print: 2014-12-01

Citation Information: Linguistic Typology, Volume 18, Issue 3, Pages 413–448, ISSN (Online) 1613-415X, ISSN (Print) 1430-0532, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/lingty-2014-0018.

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