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Hanunóo

(Philippines; Austronesian, Western Malayo-Polynesian)

Summary:
Metathesis in Hanunóo (C/V and C/C) is restricted to numerals. Metathesis is not otherwise productive in the language.
Examples:
There are six forms in Hanunóo which show metathesis (based on our survey of Conklin 1953). Three involve C/C metathesis, with a glottal stop metathesizing with the following consonant, after the deletion of the intervening vowel. Note that all words with metathesis involve numerals.

?usa
‘one’
kas?a
‘once’
?upat
‘four’
kap?at
‘four times’
?unum
‘six’
kan?um
‘six times’

The remaining three involve root-initial C/V metathesis.

duwa
‘two’
tigudwa
‘two apiece’
tulu
‘three’
tigutlu
‘three apiece’
lima
‘five’
tigilma
‘five apiece’
Conditions:
Metathesis applies just in case a glottal stop would otherwise occur in preconsonantal position as the result of vowel syncope triggered by prefixation.

?usa
‘one’
kas?a
‘once’

When a consonant other than a glottal stop occurs in preconsonantal position, metathesis fails to apply.

duwa
‘two’
kadwa
*kawda
‘twice’
tulu
‘three’
katlu
*kaltu
‘thrice’
Motivation:
Phonotactic restriction: An examination of Conklin's (1953) dictionary reveals that there are no words in which glottal stop occurs in preconsonantal position. Glottal stop occurs prevocalically (#__V, ?agaw 'grasping'; V__V, para?an 'method'; C__V but?ul 'bone') and postvocalically (V__#, bati? 'feeling, emotion').
Related Information:
Mielke & Hume (2001) comment on the nature of metathesis in Hanunóo . Unlike most cases of metathesis, all forms in this language involve root-initial metathesis -- in the vast majority of languages with metathesis, metathesis occurs away from the left edge of the word. M & H argue that the greater number of observed cases of metathesis occurring away from the left edge may be because it disrupts word recognition less in this position than at the beginning of the word. While Hanunóo may appear to be a counter-example to this claim, they suggest that the restricted nature of the process in the language is significant. As they point out, numerals form a closed set of words. As a result, the impact on word recognition may be minimized, as compared to the same type of word-initial metathesis occurring among a larger, open set of words. Word frequency may also be relevant. Numbers are fairly frequent lexical items and so are typically more prone to modification.
Symbols:
? = glottal stop

Last Updated: 6/20/2007
References:
eliabeth hume's home page | OSU Linguistics home page