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Syncretism is the situation where one morphological form corresponds to two or more morphosyntactic descriptions.


E.g. English bet (in I bet you ten pounds) is syncretic between Present and Past, as seen in comparison with I give/gave you ten pounds.

In Ancient Greek, the nominative and vocative of the feminine singular/plural case forms are identical (e.g. khóoraa 'a land', khôoraa 'O, land', khôoray 'lands', khôoray 'O, lands'). The same is true for the nominative and accusative of the neuter singular/plural case forms: dôoron 'house-nom./', dôora 'house-nom./'.

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The term has originally been used in the sense of "combining different religions", and was transferred to linguistics in the 19th century.


Syncretism database of the Surrey Morphology Group Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics


  • Baerman, Matthew & Brown, Dunstan & Corbett, Greville G. 2005. The syntax-morphology interface: A study of syncretism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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