Metathesis in Language 2.0


Language Family


Both diachronic and synchronic metathesis of /r/ and a following vowel are found.

Diachronic and synchronic /l/ metathesis were posited to account for the derivation of present Bonggi forms from proto forms and that of surface forms from underlying forms, respectively.

Type(s) of metathesis

Type Status Optionality Position Location
a. CV Both/unknown Obligatory Adjacent Root-final
b. CV Both/unknown Obligatory Adjacent Root-final

Case types and qualities


/r/ metathesis
a. Diachronic Process: /r/ metathesizes with a following vowel in an unstressed syllable if the vowel precedes an alveolar stop /t, d, n/.

Putative proto-form        
/ba.rat/ / ['baaɾt̚] 'west' (Malay barat)
/ŋa.ran/ /ŋa.arn/ ['ŋããɾdn] 'name' (Dusun Naran)

b. Synchronic Process: /r/ metathesis is observed in affixed forms.

ajar ['aɟʝaR] 'to teach' /aɟʝar/ + /ɔn/ [ə'ɟʝaaɾdn]
-orod   'numb' /m/ + /ɔrɔd/ ['mɔ̃ɔ̃ɾd̚]


/l/ metathesis
a. Diachronic Process: According to Boutin (2000), present forms of some Bonggi nouns can be derived from proto-forms by the interaction of five different phonological processes; 1) /l/ metathesis; 2) palatalization of /l/; 3) geminate reduction; 4) coalescence; 5) V preplosion.

Proto form /l/ metathesis /l/ palatalization geminate reduction coalescence V preplosion
*dalan 'path' > daaln > daain > dain   > [dajdn]
*talun 'forest' > tauln > tauin   > toin > [tojdn] ~ [tejdn]

b. Synchronic Process: When the suffix '-On' is added to a stem ending in /l/, /l/ palatalizes to /i/ and /O/ is subsequently deleted. Boutin (2000) accounts for this in terms of /l/ metathesis, /l/-palatalization to [i] and vowel reduction.

Unerlying form /tɔmbɔl/ + /ɔn/
/l/ metathesis tɔmbɔɔln
Palatalization of /l/ tɔmbɔɔin
Tensing of mid vowel tɔmbooin
Geminate reduction tɔmboin
Offglide formation tɔmbojn
Stress tɔm'bojn
Neutralization təm'bojn
Labialization təm'bʷojn
Nasal preplosion təm'bʷojdn
Derived form təm'bʷojdn


No conditions could be found


No motivations could be found


t̚ = unreleased voiceless alveolar stop
' = stress marker
Ṽ = nasalized vowel
bm = preploded bilabial nasal
dn = preploded alveolar nasal
kŋ = preploded velar nasal
ɟʝ = voiced palatal affricate
Cʷ = labialized consonant
t̪ = dentalized 't'



  • Boutin, Michael. 2000. Blocking nasal spread in Bonggi. Paper presented at SEALS conference.