In this chapter, we ask whether verbs exhibit suppletion (different stems in different grammatical contexts) depending on different tense or aspect forms. We distinguish two degrees of suppletion. In strong suppletion, there are two different stems that share no phonological material at all (as English go vs. went), whereas in weak suppletion, the two irregularly related stems share some phonological material (as English think vs. thought).
It is irrelevant for this feature how many verbs in a given languages exhibit strong or weak suppletion. It suffices that verbal suppletion exists in only one verb. Note that in most APiCS languages, suppletion occurs only in a few high-frequency verbs.
We consider only stem suppletion (as English go vs. went). Formal irregularity is determined by synchronic, not by diachronic criteria; therefore, the historical origin of the suppletive forms and their etymologies are not taken into account here.
This feature is related to WALS feature 79 (Veselinova 2005).
We distinguish the following six values:
|Weak suppletion according to tense only||6|
|Strong suppletion according to tense only||17|
|Weak suppletion according to aspect only||2|
|Strong suppletion according to aspect only||1|
|Strong suppletion according to both tense and aspect||5|
|No suppletion according to tense or aspect||45|
Less than half of our languages show any suppletion, and in most of them, suppletion is according to tense (generally present vs. past tense).
Value 1 (weak suppletion according to tense only) is found in four Ibero-Romance-based languages (Cape Verdean Creole of Brava, Palenquero, Papiamentu, Cavite Chabacano), as well as in Kinubi and Norf’k.
Weak suppletion should be taken to mean ‘at most weak suppletion’. If a language shows both weak and strong suppletion, it is classified as having strong suppletion.
Value 2 (strong suppletion according to tense only) occurs in six Ibero-Romance-based languages, in seven English-based languages, in two French-based languages, and in two Dutch-based languages.
In the Reunion Creole example, the opposition between le vs. lete is a case of weak suppletion according to tense, but the opposition between these two markers and sra is a case of strong suppletion according to tense.
In the Nicaraguan Creole English examples, the opposition between iz and woz shows strong suppletion according to tense, the opposition between gou and gaan illustrates weak suppletion according to tense, and gwain refers to weak aspect suppletion. Remember that in languages with strong suppletion, weak suppletion is not taken into account in order to assign the value.
Value 4 (strong suppletion according to aspect only) occurs only in Chinese Pidgin Russian: xodi ‘go (imperfective)’ vs. paʃola ‘has gone (perfective)’.
Value 5, strong suppletion according to both tense and aspect, occurs in four Portuguese-based creoles (Cape Verdean Creole of São Vicente, Casamancese Creole, Principense, Korlai), as well as in Creolese.
Example (8a) illustrates weak suppletion according to tense and aspect, and example (8b) illustrates strong suppletion according to tense and aspect.
Suppletion, strong or weak, occurs in 31 APiCS languages, i.e. in 41% of the sample. It is present in all regions of the world, except in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, but almost exclusively in creole languages, the exceptions being African American English, Afrikaans, and Chinese Pidgin Russian.
In the APiCS languages, only few verbs show suppletion according to tense and aspect; in most cases, these verbs are statives (‘be’, ‘have’, ‘know’); the most frequent dynamic verb showing suppletion is ‘go’. All these verbs are very frequently used verbs, in the lexifier languages as well as in the APiCS languages themselves.
In the WALS languages (see Veselinova 2005), tense and aspect suppletion occurs mainly in Europe and Western Asia up to South Asia, whereas in the APiCS languages, it is very frequent in the Caribbean and West Africa. In most APiCS languages, tense and aspect suppletion is inherited from their European lexifiers.