Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

On the Regularization of Consonant + Consonant Metathesis in the History of Spanish

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2005), 82, (2), 137–158.

Abstract

This article investigates four cases of consonant + consonant metathesis in the history of Spanish in order to determine how these metatheses became regular sound changes, in contrast to other adjacent and non-adjacent metatheses that were less regular. Given the impossibility of a synchronic metathesis rule as the source of regularity, I argue that Old Spanish /dn/, /dl/, and /nr/ were consistently restructured to /nd/, /ld/, and /ſn/ respectively, via misperception due to adjacency, phonetic similarity, stretched out acoustic cues, and in certain cases the possibility of intermediate blended articulations. Other diachronic metatheses like /bl/ > /lb/ were less regular because they lacked one or more of these factors. Similarly, Judeo-Spanish /ſd/ > /dſ/ metathesis attained a degree of regularity through phonetic similarity and adjacency, but the absence of stretched out acoustic cues and the impossibility of intermediate articulations led to the survival of unmetathesized sequences.

Este artículo investiga casos de metátesis de dos consonantes en la historia del español para explicar por qué unas inversiones (p.e. /dn/ > /nd/, /dl/ > /ld/) alcanzaron la regularidad diacrónica, mientras que otras instancias de metátesis (p.e. /bl/ > /lb/) fueron más esporádicas. Dada la imposibilidad de una regla sincrónica de metátesis, como vehículo de una posterior regularización diacrónica, en el presente estudio se postula que /dn/, /dl/, y /nr/ se reanalizaron de modo regular a /nd/, /ld/, y /ſn/, respectivamente, por medio de la percepción errónea, la cual fue producto de los siguientes factores: (1) la contigüidad, (2) la similitud fonética, (3) rasgos acústicos difusos, y (4) la posibilidad de etapas (articulaciones) intermedias. Otras inversiones o permanecieron esporádicas (p.ej. /bl/ > /lb/) o alcanzaron un grado intermedio de regularidad (p.ej. /ſd/ > /dſ/ en judeoespañol) debido a la ausencia de algunos de estos factores clave.

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Wireback, Kenneth