Metathesis (Gr. μετάθεσις) is the transposition of sounds or letters in a word, commonly precipitated by a slip of the ear or of the pen. As a linguistic process, metathesis has changed the written form and pronunciation of many words. For example, bird is a metathesised form of OE bryd. Usually the phenomenon refers to contiguous sounds which is called adjacent metathesis. Metathesis may also describe the transposition of non-adjacent sounds and/or letters as in Spanish palabra from Latin parabolaCf. types of errors.

Havet (1911, 470) uses the term anasyllabism to describe the reanalysis and subsequent metathesis of the syllables of a source word which in turn transforms the word into another, such as domo for modo, and suspicio for suscipio. 


– Havet, Louis. 1911. Manuel de critique verbale appliquée aux textes latins. Paris: Hachette.

In other languages

DE: Metathese
FR: metathèse
IT: metatesi


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