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Open Access Published by De Gruyter Mouton October 21, 2009

Non-Teleological Approaches to Metathesis: Evidence from Dialects of Polish

  • Bartłomiej Czaplicki

Non-Teleological Approaches to Metathesis: Evidence from Dialects of Polish

This paper discusses metathesis and other related processes attested in the North Mazovian dialects of Polish. Recently proposed functional approaches to sound change provide a framework for this analysis. It is argued that the transposition of segments with elongated phonetic cues is best analyzed as an instance of phonetically-based sound change. Copying a consonant across a rhotic finds a similar perceptual explanation involving the reinterpretation of the acoustic signal. In addition to perceptual metathesis, I consider cases that fall under coarticulatory metathesis and arise from varying degrees of gestural overlap. In comparison to previous approaches to metathesis, the role of syllable structure in driving metathesis is considerably diminished but not refuted. Structural optimization presumably operates in tandem with phonetic and perceptual factors. Language processing is called to attention in accounting for the long-distance transposition of similar segments. A connectionist approach that makes reference to activation and competition in a neural network of linguistic units is invoked to define this type of metathesis. On the whole, the Polish dialectal data support the hypothesis that sound change is fundamentally diachronic and non-optimizing.


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Published Online: 2009-10-21
Published in Print: 2009-9-1

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