Metathesis ( /mɪˈtæθɪsɪs/ from Greek μετάθεσις, from μετατίθημι “I put in a different order”) is the transposition of sounds or syllables in a word or of words in a sentence.
Some of my favorite examples of modern English metathesis!
- iron - eye-urn, not eye-ron
- prescription - purr-scription, not pre-scription
- pretty (colloquially) - pur-ty, not prih-tty
- ask (colloquially) - axe, not ask (interestingly, this is actually a reversal from another move from common-for-Chaucer’s-time ‘ax’ to the modern pronunciation!)
Some pretty dope examples of Old English metathesis that gave us modern words!
- OE: bridd —> bird
- OE: þyrl (hole) —> nosþyrl (nose-hole) —> nosþryl —> nostril
WHOA! What’s this? That’s right! It’s PROTO-GERMANIC METATHESIS!
- PG: *hrussą- —> OE: hors —> horse
Crazy! Other nice ones:
- Latin: formaticus (formed in a mold) —> French: fromage (cheese)
- Latin: miraculum —> Spanish: milagro (miracle) Check out the distance on that one!
Related idea: spoonerism (metathesis, but a slip of the tongue rather than linguistic evolution)