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Database

Maltese

(Malta; Afro-Asiatic, Arabic)

Summary:
In verbs in which the medial radical consonant is a sonorant, i.e. [m, n, l, r], a sonorant and a following vowel metathesize.
Examples:
The stem of the plural imperfective typically consists of a three consonant cluster. However, in verbs in which the medial radical consonant is a sonorant, i.e. [m, n, l, r], a vowel occurs to its left and this has been attributed to metathesis. The quality of this vowel is identical to the underlying quality of the vocalic melody.

Imperfective Plural Singular Perfective Stem V Gloss
yo + korb + u yo + krob korob /o/ 'to groan'
ye + Hemz + u ye + Hmez Hemez /e/ 'to pin'
yi + tilf + u yi + tlef tilef /i/ 'to lose'
ya + ?ilb + u ya + ?leb ?aleb /i/ 'to overturn'
Conditions:
No information currently available.
Motivation:
a. Berrondonner et al. (1983): Maltese metathesis is a one-step operation in which the sonorant consonant and vowel switch positions.

V(1) C(2) R(3) V(4) C(5) V(6) --> 1 2 4 3 5 6

b. Hume (1991): Metathesis in Maltese is the product of three elementary operations of non-linear phonology: delink, insert and associate.

e.g. Derivation of [yokorbu] 'they groan'

Lexical: input
(after plane conflation)
C
|
k
V
|
o
C
|
r
V
|
o
C
|
b

1st cycle:
Syncope
n/a


2nd cycle
input
yVè korob
Syncope
yV k rob
 
[o]'
Vocalic Mapping
yV k rob
 
\
 
[o]'

3rd cycle
input
yó krob u
Syncope
yo kr b u
 
[o]'

Post-lexical
Epenthesis
yo kVèr b u
 
[o]'
Vocalic Mapping
yo kVr bu
 
\
 
[o]'
Output
[yokórbu] 'they groan'
Related Information:
a. Syncope: An unstressed vowel in a non-final open syllable deletes.
cf. Hume (1991):
- When syncope applies, only the vowel slot of the prosodic template is deleted and the vocalic melody remains floating.
- By universal association conventions, the floating melody links up to an empty vowel slot if one is available.
Symbols:
H = voiceless pharyngeal fricative
? = voiceless glottal stop

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