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Database

Rotuman

(Rotuma Island; Austronesian, Oceanic)

Summary:
CV metathesis is observed by comparing incomplete and complete forms.
Examples:
Complete Incomplete  
hula hual 'moon'
hOsa hOas 'flower'
rito riot ‘to glitter’
Conditions:
a. Final V-slot deletion (Besnier 1987)
Rotuman metathesis in an incomplete form is triggered by deletion of the final V-slot deletion, thus leaving the feature matrix of the final vowel floating. This deletion rule only applies if the resulting configuration can be syllabified. Thus, no deletion rule applies in cases of monosyllabic words such as ma ‘and, just’, ke ‘instead’, etc.
Motivation:
a. Autosegmental Approach (Besnier 1987)

Assuming that consonants and vowels occur on two distinct tiers, Rotuman metathesis is treated as a rule where the final V-slot of the CV-tier is deleted, thus leaving the feature matrix of the final vowel floating. The floating feature matrix is reassociated to the first V-slot to the left and to avoid the structure having two vocalic segments under one V-slot, different processes such as diphthongization, umlaut, and vowel deletion apply.

b. Planar V/C segregation (McCarthy 1989)

"In Rotuman, there is no evidence for morphological distinctions between vowels and consonants or templatic morphology, and little evidence for rigid constraints on canonical form. But there is the highly restricted (C)V syllable structure that could conceivably render the linear order of vowels and consonants redundant. Because vowels and consonants are unordered, they are free to give the appearance of reordering without an overt metathesis rule."

c. Prosodic Approach (McCarthy 1999)

The constraint that the main-stressed syllable is final in every Prosodic Word entails that stems in the incomplete phase end in a heavy syllable, and this leads to phonological processes such as metathesis, vowel deletion, diphthongization, etc. found in the incomplete phase. Metathesis occurs whenever the resulting vowel sequence rises in sonority.
Related Information:
a. Umlaut: A final vowel in the complete phase triggers the umlaut of a preceding vowel and then drops in the incomplete phase.

Complete Incomplete  
mOsE mO:s 'to sleep'
furi fu:r 'to turn'
Symbols:
O = mid back rounded vowel (open 'o')
E = mid front unrounded vowel (epsilon)
O: = mid front rounded vowel (fronted open 'o')
u: = high front rounded vowel (fronted 'u')

Last Updated: 6/18/2007
References:
eliabeth hume's home page | OSU Linguistics home page