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(Sudan; Nilo-Saharan, Fur)

Metathesis of a stem initial consonant and a following vowel occurs with the prefixation of a consonantal person marker. If metathesis results in an /ml/ cluster, these segments are also metathesized.
When a consonantal person marker (/j-/ ‘2nd sg.’, /k-/ ‘1st pl.’, /b-/ ‘2nd pl.’, etc.) is prefixed to a stem-initial consonant, the stem consonant metathesizes with the following vowel, as shown in (a). (For some stems, the initial consonant deletes. See related processes .)

a. CV metathesis

verb root: with C prefix:
ba C-ab ‘drink’
leiN C-aliN ‘wake up’

If metathesis with the following vowel results in an /ml/ cluster, those segments are metathesized, as illustrated in (b). The consonant sequence /lm/ may optionally be assimilated to become [mm].

b. CV and CC metathesis

bul > *C-uml > C-ulm ~ C-umm > ‘find’
bel > *C-aml > C-alm ~ C-amm > ‘speak’
No information currently available.
Phonotactic Restriction (Jakobi 1990): Metathesis occurs to avoid a non-occurring consonant sequence in initial position and the inadmissable combination of consonants such as /ml/ in medial position.

Perceptual Optimization (Hume 2000): By switching the order of a stem-initial consonant and following vowel, both consonants end up adjacent to a vowel. The initial consonant, which is a person marker, is more salient in this context than preconsonantally.
Related Information:
a. /m/ surfaces as [b] in initial position, due to a process which neutralizes and strengthens the segment.
b. When a verb stem begins with /j/ or /k/, metathesis fails to apply after prefixation of a consonantal person marker. Instead, the stem-initial consonant deletes.

verb root with C prefix
ja C-a ‘put’
kar C-ar ‘enter’
N = velar nasal

Last Updated: 6/13/2007
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