Metathesis in Language 2.0


Language Family


Metathesis occurs when a laryngeal would otherwise occur in preconsonantal position. Two laryngeals also metathesize, with the stop occurring in prevocalic position.


Type(s) of metathesis

Type Status Optionality Position Location
a. CC Synchronic Obligatory Adjacent Root-internal, root-final

Case types and qualities


Input Output Gloss Expected output (without metathesis)
ʔi + hɨgɨp ʔighɨp ‘bring in’ *ʔihgɨp
ma + hɨdɨm madhɨm ‘night’ *mahdɨm
CV(Red) + ʔopat ʔopʔat ‘four each’ *ʔoʔpat
CV(Red) + ʔɨnɨm ʔɨnʔɨm ‘six each’ *ʔɨʔnɨm
ma + haʔal mahʔal ‘choke’ *maʔhal

Nb. Red = reduplicant



a. When a laryngeal is not the first member of the heteromorphemic consonant cluster formed by affixation and vowel loss, metathesis fails to apply.

b. When a laryngeal fricative and stop are the first and the second member of the cluster, metathesis fails to apply.

ma + haʔal
‘put to bed’



Maximizing the perceptual salience of laryngeals and contrast betweenlaryngeals and other sounds (Hume 1997): When two laryngeals are involved, the contrast between the two laryngeals is enhanced by placing the weaker glottal stop in prevocalic position where the burst is more salient.

While laryngeals are not strictly excluded from coda position in the language, the general tendency is for laryngeals to occur prevocalically, e.g. [heet], [manhamal], [bʌtʔong]. With respect to coda position, laryngeals may also occur word-finally, where the laryngeal /h/ is realized as pharyngeal fricative. In preconsonantal position, the occurrence of laryngeals is limited to the following contexts.



ɨ = high central unrounded vowel
ɘ = mid central unrounded vowel
ʔ = glottal stop
ŋ = velar nasal consonant






  • Hume, Elizabeth. 1997. Towards an Explanation of Consonant/Consonant Metathesis. Ms OSU. Draft, v. 1.
  • Shetler, J. 1976. Notes on Balangao Grammar. SIL Asian-Pacific Series. Huntington Beach, CA.