Metathesis in Language 2.0

Greenlandic (West)

Language Family


Sequences of continuant + velar or uvular stop metathesize in nouns with a stem ending in a consonant cluster.

Type(s) of metathesis

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

Case types and qualities


Sequences of continuant + velar or uvular stop metathesize. According to Underhill (1971), this occurs in nouns in which the stem ends in a consonant cluster. The stem ends ina cluster before a vowel-initial suffix and before suffixes beginning with a single consonant, with a vowel inserted. When there is no suffix or a suffix beginning with CV, a vowel is inserted between the stem-final consonants. According to Underhill then, the noun 'grass' seen just below would have the underlying stem form /ivk-/.

(vk / gv) Sg. ivik -> Pl. igvit 'grass'
(vq / rv) Sg. auviq -> Pl. aurvit 'walrus'
(mk / ŋm) Sg. kamik -> Pl. kaŋmik 'boot'
(mq / rm) Sg. imiq -> Pl. irmit 'water'
(nk / ŋn) Sg. sanik -> Pl. saŋnit 'dust'
(nq / rn) Sg. siqiniq -> Pl. siqirnit 'sun'
(lk / gl) Sg. malik -> Pl. maglit 'wave'
(lq / rl) Sg. aliq -> Pl. arlit 'harpoon line'


No conditions could be found


No motivations could be found




  • Clearly, Alvin 1976. Epenthesis, metathesis, and assimilation in West Greenlandic. In E. Hamp (ed.), Papers on Eskimo and Aleut Linguistics. Chicago: Chicago Linguistics Society.
  • Fortescue, Michael. 1984. West Greenlandic. London: Croom Helm.
  • Rischel, Jørgen 1974. Topics in West Greenlandic Phonology. Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag.
  • Underhill, R. 1971. Metathesis vs. Gemination in Greenlandic. Papers in Linguistics 4:2. 299-311.