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Leti

(Leti Island; Austronesian, Southwest Maluku)

Summary:
a. Phrase-medial metathesis: Preceding a morpheme-initial consonant cluster or /CVV/ sequence, the ordering of morpheme-final segments is consonant + vowel as the result of metathesis.
b. Phrase-final metathesis: In cases of consonant-final forms in phrase-final position, the final vowel and consonant of a morpheme change positions.
Examples:
a. Phrase-medial metathesis. Metathesis occurs within a phrase when a consonant-final morpheme is followed by a morpheme beginning with a consonant cluster or geminate consonant.

/kunis + Bnutan/ ---> kunsiBnutna ---> ‘key + iron’
/ukar + ppalu/ ---> ukrappalu ---> ‘finger + bachelor = index finger’
/ulit + prai/ ---> ultiprai ---> ‘skin + prai’

cf. Before a morpheme-initial CV sequence, no metathesis applies and instead the surface form corresponds to the underlying consonant-final form.

/ukar + lavan/ ---> ukar lavena ---> ‘finger + big = thumb, big toe’
/urun + mOa/ ---> urun mOa ---> ‘breadfruit + Moanese’

b. Phrase-final metathesis. Phrase finally, all morphemes are vowel final. This triggers metathesis of C-final morphemes.

UR Phrase-finally   Cf. ___# CV  
/urun/ [urnu] ‘beautiful’ [urun mOa] ‘Moanese breadfruit’
/mEsar/ [mEsra] ‘teacher’ [mEsar lavna] ‘teacher, big’


cf. If the morpheme is vowel-final, no metathesis applies and the phrase-final surface form is identical to the underlying form. Other phonological processes affect the final vowel in phrase-medial position, e.g. low vowel deletion, glide formation.

Phrase-finally   cf. Phrase-medially    
rai ‘land’ ralyavana /rai + lavan/ ‘land + to be big = continent’
lopu ‘dolphin’ lopdwo /lopu + do/ ‘dolphin, then’
Conditions:
Metathesis is conditioned by a phrasal boundary. It is also conditioned by the segmental makeup of the morpheme undergoing metathesis (consonant-final), and that of the following morpheme (starts with a consonant cluster or geminate consonant).
Motivation:
a. Phrase-medial metathesis

Syllable Well-formedness Condition (Hume, 1998) : With respect to metathesis before an initial consonant cluster, the avoidance of tautosyllabic consonant clusters provides the impetus for change.

b. Phrase-final metathesis

Phrasal Requirement (Hume, 1998): In phrase-final position, all morphemes end in a vowel, and this triggers a phrase-final metathesis.
Related Information:
The avoidance of onsetless syllables:
i. Secondary articulation formation: As a means of resolving vowel hiatus, an unstressed high vowel may be realized as a secondary articulation on an adjacent prevocalic consonant both within and across morpheme boundaries.

/tani + arat/ ---> tanYarta ---> ‘soil + edge’
/tultulu + enu/ ---> tultulWenu ---> ‘hat + turtle’

ii. Glide formation: To avoid onsetless syllables, an unstressed intervocalic high vowel is realized as a glide.

/rai + aan/ ---> raya:na ---> ‘king + diminutive = prince’
/kOkkOi + aan/ ---> kOkkOya:na ---> ‘child + dim. = baby’
Symbols:
B = voiced bilabial fricative
O = mid back rounded vowel (open 'o')
Y = palatalization marker of a preceding consonant
W = labialization marker of a preceding consonant

Note: The view of metathesis presented above is based on Hume 1997, 1998. This approach differs from that of van Engelenhoven's in that it is assumed that there are both C-final and V-final morphemes underlyingly. In van Engelenhoven, all morphemes are V-final. Discussion of this latter approach, and evidence in favour of the former appear in Hume 1998, in particular. The analysis of van der Hulst & van Engelenhoven is also discussed in that paper.

Last Updated: 6/15/2007
References:
eliabeth hume's home page | OSU Linguistics home page