Metathesis (phonetics)

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Metathesis ( ancient Greek μετάθεσις metáthesis "change") describes a sound change in phonology , which consists in the change of a sound or the interchanging of sounds within words.


Metathesis is a phonological process (like assimilation ) that reacts to phonotactic changes, which, however, rarely occurs compared to epenthesis (insertion) and elision (omission), since phonotactic problems are more likely to be resolved by these two processes. The sound change , however, is the change in the debate on a time.

Explanatory examples

From the Germanic languages

Examples of metatheses can be found in etymologically related words and word forms. The liquidae / l / and / r / are most frequently affected by the metathesis.

  • dt. fountain , ndl. bron - west frieze. boarne , nd. Born
  • German chest , engl. breast - ndl. borst , nd. Borst
  • dt. Christ, Christian - ndl. kerstmis, kerstenen, Karsten , nd. Kerst, Kerstin, Kirsten
  • dt. village , nd. Dbod , ndl. dorp - nd. Bot , Cas , Finnen , Frin , Hön , Sut , Wal trop, ndl. Gel , Vlo drop
  • German frog , west frieze. froask - ndl. kik pilot , nd. suggest and
  • dt. Frost , engl. frost , west frieze. froast - ndl. forward
  • ndl. gods vrucht , engl. fright - dt. fear , got. faúrhtei
  • engl. GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications; originally Groupe Spécial Mobile) - isl. gemsi (mobile phone, cell phone)
  • German Jakob - fries. Jabik , Japik
  • dt. needle , engl. needle , west frieze. niddel - ndl. naald
  • German press , engl. press - ndl. pers
  • dt. Ross , ndl. ros , swed. russ - engl. horse , west frieze. hoars , norway . hors
  • dt. wart , engl. wart - ndl. wrat , nd. Wratt
  • dt. burn , swed. brinna - engl. burn , nd. berne
  • dt. threshing , engl. thresh - ndl. dorsen , sater frieze . intensify
  • dt. separate - ndl. tornen
  • engl. wrestle - ndl. worstelen
  • German thirty , norway. tretti , west frieze . tritich - ndl. dertig , engl. thirty , nd. dörtig
  • German fresh , English fresh - ndl. verse
  • German work , engl. work - ndl. gewrocht, doorwrocht , engl. wrought
  • dt. burst , ndl. barsten , engl. burst - nd. bream
  • German cross , Norway. Nynorsk kross - norway. Bokmål kors
  • dt. wasp , ndl. wesp , engl. wasp - easterr . Wepse (n) , nd. Wääps , Weeps , westfries. waps , weps

From the Romance languages

There are very similar sporadic metatheses in liquids in the Romance languages.

  • lat. formaticum , it. formaggioFrench fromage
  • German Roland → Italian Orlando
  • German crocodile , Latin crocodilus → Spanish cocodrilo , it. coccodrillo

In the following cases, the change between the prefixes per- and pro - certainly favored by the phonetic similarity - can be expected.

  • German profile , it. profilospan. perfil
  • German perfume , French parfumit. profumo

The interchanging of r and l across syllable boundaries is typical of Spanish .

  • Latin periculumSpanish peligro
  • lat. miraculum → span. milagro
  • French Algérie , German Algeria → Spanish Argelia

Metatheses with other sounds also occur in Spanish.

  • ukr. Ukrajina , dt. Ukraine → span. Ucrania
  • German garland → Spanish guirnalda

Liquid ametathesis in the Slavic languages

In the South and West Slavic languages, the Liquidametathesis is a comprehensive sound change carried out in Late Old Slavonic , through which all Old Slavic connections * or, * ol, * er, * el between consonants were changed and as ra, la, rě, lě (im South Slavic, Czech and Slovak ) or ro, lo, re, le (in the other West Slavic languages) are represented.

In the East Slavic languages ​​no metathesis took place here, but the word was lengthened by one syllable (so-called full sound ): cf. Russian bereza for birch , moloko for milk , gorod (cf. Novgorod ) for city , korova for cow . However, due to the inclusion of book words from Old Church Slavonic, there are numerous words in Russian that do not have the full sound, e.g. B. sreda 'Wednesday' next to the inherited sereda 'middle' or mlečnyj ' milk- ' next to moločnyj with the same meaning.

There was a similar liquid ametathesis under slightly different conditions in all Slavic languages ​​in the initial voice .

  • urslaw. * orbota 'work' - Russian rabota , Czech / Slovak robota (see robot )
  • German arm , Latin armus , upper arm, shoulder blade, urslaw. * ormę 'shoulder' - serbokroat. rame , Polish ramię , Czech rámě , Slovak rameno .
  • German Elbe , Latin Albis - Czech Labe , Polish Łaba , Obersorb. Łobjo , Lower Sorb . Łobje

Vowel length metathesis in ancient Greek

The quantity metathesis or metathesis quantitatum (literally: exchange of quantities - here vowel lengths) is a metathesis in which not different consonants but the vowel lengths are exchanged, as is often the case in ancient Greek .

  • Homeric pólēos (πόληος) Gen. Sg. 'City' - Attic póleōs (πόλεως)

Alternative name

Lautumsprung is a term used by the Swiss dialect researcher Werner Marti in his Bern German grammar for metathesis.

Examples from Bern German :

  • a n + e m e → a m e n e ( supr. "on one")
  • vo n + e m e → vo m e n e (supra "from one")

Web links

Wiktionary: Metathesis  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Werner Marti: Berndeutsch-Grammar . For today's dialect between Thun and Jura. Francke, Bern 1985, ISBN 3-305-00073-2 .