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METATHESIS

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METATHESIS

Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:31 pm

• metathesis •

Pronunciation: mê--thê-sis • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass

Meaning: 1. (Linguistics) The switching of one sound or letter in a word with another. 2. (Chemistry) A chemical reaction between two compounds in which parts of each are interchanged to form two new compounds.

Notes: Today's rather technical linguistic word comes replete with all the derivational forms we need. We have our choice of metathetic or metathetical for the adjective, and -ly may be added to the latter for the adverb: metathetically. The verb is a predictable metathesize, as two sounds might metathesize in a word. The biggest pitfall to avoid is the confusion of this word with the medical term, metastasis "movement or spread (of a disease or pain)".

In Play: Linguistic metathesis most often involves R and L, the "liquid" consonants: flimsy was created from filmsy by metathesis. When we say perogative for prerogative or perscription for prescription, we commit metathesis, switching the positions of the R and E. In some dialects of English ask is metathesized to aks and another common speech error is the pronunciation of foliage as foilage, switching the L and the I. Keep your ears pealed! Southerners love metathesis: their pronunciations of pretty as perty, and difference [di-frêns] as differnce all reflect this proclivity.

Word History: Today's Good Word is a Late Latin noun based on the Greek verb metatithenai "to transpose". This verb consists of meta "beyond, over" + tithenai "to place". Meta comes from the same source as English mid and middle. Apparently, it originally meant "between", for that is the meaning of Russian mezhdu, which comes from the same word. Tithenai comes from an earlier form dhe-ti-, the source of English deed and do plus the suffix -ty. (For more about metathesis, see the Ohio State Metathesis Page).
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Re: METATHESIS

Postby David Myer » Tue Aug 21, 2012 6:42 am

I
Last edited by David Myer on Tue Aug 21, 2012 6:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: METATHESIS

Postby David Myer » Tue Aug 21, 2012 6:44 am

I liked this one. Very interesting. But astonished to see 'ears pealed'. Surely 'peeled'? Eyes peeled so there is no skin on them so they can see clearly? And ears (a little less sweetly) so they can hear properly. 'But pealed'? - or have I misunderstood something?
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Re: METATHESIS

Postby Philip Hudson » Tue Aug 21, 2012 11:06 am

I can't speak for the Good Doctor but perhaps there is a sense of humor in play here: eyes peeled/ears pealed, as in listening for the peal of a bell. Or it could be a mishap. When typing, I create metatheses galore that I then have to correct. It seems that peeled comes, in a tortuous progression, from keeping the hair out of ones eyes. The way some of us old geezers exchange head hair for ear and nose hair, we occasionally need our ears peeled, literally . (cf depilatory)
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
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Re: METATHESIS

Postby MTC » Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:16 pm

In metathesis sounds or letters are transposed within a single word, while in Spoonerisms sounds or letters are transposed in two words, often humorously, for example:

"Three cheers for our queer old dean!" (dear old queen, referring to Queen Victoria)
"Is it kisstomary to cuss the bride?" (customary to kiss)
"The Lord is a shoving leopard." (a loving shepherd)
"A blushing crow." (crushing blow)
"A well-boiled icicle" (well-oiled bicycle)
"You were fighting a liar in the quadrangle." (lighting a fire)

Examples culled from discussion of Spoonerisms on Wikipedia.
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Re: METATHESIS

Postby Philip Hudson » Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:32 pm

Cheers for metatheses, malapropisms and especially for spoonerisms. Does anyone know of another transmogrification of letters?
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Re: METATHESIS

Postby wurdpurrson » Tue Aug 21, 2012 6:23 pm

I, too, was caught up short by keeping eyes and/or ears peeled/pealed. Perhaps that is why some have ringing in the ears?
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Re: METATHESIS

Postby David Myer » Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:06 pm

I get it! If the ears were pealed, perhaps the ringing has stopped and we can hear clearly once more? Anyway after all this information I have decided to stop apologising for my typos - from now on they are metatheses.
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