Lynne Murphy lynnem at COGS.SUSX.AC.UK
Mon Jan 31 17:24:43 UTC 2000

Ron Butters said:

> In a message dated 1/31/2000 11:32:44 AM, lynnem at COGS.SUSX.AC.UK writes:
> << But isn't there more than just metathesis going here?  In the performance/
> preformance examples, they're changing one prefix into another (more
> common/transparent?) prefix.  Is this also a case of some reanalysis?
> People may do perform -> preform and pervert -> prevert, but do they ever
> do purple -> preple or person-> preson?  I doubt it, since in the latter cases
> people are less likely to interpret the first syllable as a latinate prefix.
> (Or should that be a perfix?) >>
> Maybe stress has something to do with it, too: <PURple> and <PERvert> are
> disyllabics stressed on the first syllable (when people say <PREvert> it is a
> self-conscious joke in most cases, in my experience). In any case, doubt that
> people think of the first syllable of any of these words as a prefix. Nobody
> says <PER-game announcements>.

By my reasoning, no one would say 'per-game'...I was wondering whether the
transparent PRE- prefix is prefered over the semantically opaque PER- thing
that looks like a prefix.  I think English speakers do have a sense that
PER- and CON- and other fossilized latinate prefixes are prefixes (this
becomes very clear in the morphology section of the intro to linguistics
class), but they have a clearer sense that PRE- is a prefix, since it's
still productive.  So I was suggesting that 'prehaps' the people who
metathesize these sounds are motivated by morphology analogy, not articulatory
ease or whatever.

Just a hypothesis.  Don't know whether it's testable.


PS:  Meant to give another subject heading to my query on 'wuss' but failed
to--sorry to have been misleading there.

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