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March 22 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Speaker: Dr. Robert Blust
Title: Six patterns of recurrent metathesis in Austronesian languages
Most sound changes show clear evidence of phonetic motivation. However, one type of change that has long been difficult to reconcile with this view is metathesis. In this paper, I will argue that metathesis is a cover term for several quite different phenomena, and that while many metatheses may be the deceptively simple outcome of complex phonetic processes, others do seem to fit the classic definition of a one-step segmental transposition by a speaker. More problematically, many of the latter kinds of changes do not find a ready explanation within any theoretical framework that has yet been proposed. The most challenging of these changes are those that are recurrent, since here the question of motivation is more pressing than when a metathesis affects a single lexical item.