Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. John G. Newman

Second Advisor

Dr. John O. Foreman

Third Advisor

Dr. Katherine Christoffersen


Language change is the primary focus of historical linguistics. Some changes, phonological, morphological, or semantic, alter forms and lead to new regularities in a language’s lexicon. Linguistic analyses and terminology to describe them have been established to aid in linguistic investigations, though, there remain changes that defy typical explanations.

Metathesis is one change that still intrigues scholars intensely because, since the advent of modern linguistic study with Saussure, we have presumed that languages operate systematically; yet, metathetic change is often seemingly random. Even when it does operate over a period of a generation or two, it may do so erratically, affecting and then not affecting word forms vulnerable to this syntagmatic process of inversion. This investigation addresses the specifics of /sk/-metathesis in Old English in an effort to contribute to the conversation surrounding the hypothesis that metathesis is a conditioned, and thus predictable, change. Results from an analysis of data collected from a corpus of Old English textual materials suggest that this particular instance of metathesis was, under a combination of phonological and analogical conditions, predictable and may be seen as governed by linguistic principles.


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