Linguimericks—Book ७८ SpecGram Vol CLXXXVIII, No 4 Contents Organo-Linguistics—Grammaticality Brown

Ode to Suppletion

Deedles D’Dee
SpecGram Poet-in-Residence

There are many ways of making wordsand all of them are sexy;
Coz words are fast and furious and tricksy, stretchy, flexi.
But out of all the modes and means of morph configurations
The bestthe zestthe one I trust (and champion) is suppletion.

I love you good and better; I adore you went and go
Bad and worse; paternal, father; bovine, beef and cow
And человек and люди; ἔρχομαι and ἦλθον;
Aller, vais; and be, am, was; the list goes on and on.

So, let’s sing to suppletion, morphology’s first king
As bent-of-shape irregular as Judas’ heinous sin;
The misfit and the cast-out of all morphology
You were the best, you are the firstand ever more will be!

You can give me affixation if you’ve nothing else to sell,
But affixation bores me, it’s a slow-roast morpheme Hell.
It’s abso-blooming-everywhere (look, even infixation)
Suppletion’s a rich uncle; affixes, a poor relation.

Some bang on about ablaut, man~men, mouse~mice, goose~geese
If you ablautise near me, my friend, I’ll kick you in the tooth teeth
I know it’s also verbal (sit~sat, begin~begun)
But come on, ablaut’s boring too; suppletion’s much more fun!

Yes, any process that involves some ‘compensatory lengthening’
Or talks about a vowel change as ‘loosening’ and ‘strengthening’
Has clearly got some hang-ups; no ablaut’s needed here;
Get some suppletives over and buy another round of beer.

Semitic non-concatenative consonantal roots!
If suppletion’s Anglo-Saxons, then this mode is the Jutes;
Its elegance is legendary, that’s not in dispute
But my suppletion still wins out: it’s short, and swift and sweet.

Incorporation’s all the ragejust email Mark C Baker
And he’ll reply with ‘Something, Blah, polysynthesis parameter’.
But it’s just a form of compounding: pan-fried onions, breastfeed
Far too systematic; it’s suppletion that we need.

Stinky old conversion is the mode that’s most distressing:
Export’s both a noun and verb; depends on where the stress is’.
How dull and simply lazy; you can’t make words like that:
It’s like vegging on the sofa, eating pies and getting fat.

So now we’ve done a grand Grand Tour of some morphologies;
Each of them’s unique and has its idiosyncrasies.
But only one is individuality per se:
Suppletion. It just does its thing and simply doesn’t care.

It crops up simply everywhere: in English a and some
And Latin has it too of course in esse, fui and sum;
Eye, ocular; arm, brachial; and child and paediatrics.
Oh, sweet suppletion: friend and funand funnyand funtastic.

Suppletion’s not just good for you, it’s better than the rest.
Suppletion’s not just good for you, it is the very best.
The misfit and the cast-out of all morphology:
You were the best, you are the firstand ever more will be!

LinguimericksBook ७८
Organo-LinguisticsGrammaticality Brown
SpecGram Vol CLXXXVIII, No 4 Contents