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Metatypy is a relatively new term for a kind of contact-induced language change in which a language's syntactic and semantic patterns are changed on a large scale following a model language in which the speakers are bilingual and which is the dominant language of the speakers.

Term properties

The corresponding relational adjective is metatypic (e.g. "metatypic change"), and the corresponding verb is metatypize (e.g. "a metatypized language", i.e. a language that has undergone metatypy).


The term was introduced by Malcolm D. Ross (1996:182) and elaborated in subsequent publications. It is based on Greek meta- (a prefix sometimes used to denote change. e.g. metamorphosis, metabolism), the Greek root typ- ('type'), and the Greek word-formation pattern prefix-root-y (e.g. ana-log-y, hypo-cris-y, syn-onym-y).


Wikipedia article


  • Ross, Malcolm D. (1996). Contact-induced change and the comparative method: Cases from Papua New Guinea. In M. Durie & M. D. Ross (Eds.), The comparative method reviewed: Regularity and irregularity in language change (pp. 180-217). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Ross, Malcolm D. (1997). Social networks and kinds of speech-community event. In R. Blench & M. Spriggs (Eds.), Archaeology and language 1: Theoretical and methodological orientations (pp. 209-261). London: Routledge.
  • Ross, Malcolm D. (1999). Exploring metatypy: How does contact-induced typological change come about? (Keynote talk, Australian Linguistic Society's annual meeting, Perth). (Online:
  • Ross, Malcolm D. (2001). Contact-induced change in Oceanic languages in North-West Melanesia. In A. Y. Aikhenvald & R. M. W. Dixon (Eds.), Areal diffusion and genetic inheritance (pp. 134–166). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Ross, Malcolm D. (2002). Constructions: Continuity and contact. (Manuscript). (Online:
  • Ross, Malcolm D. (2003). Diagnosing prehistoric language contact. In R. Hickey (Ed.), Motivations for language change (pp. 174-198). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Ross, Malcolm D. 2005(?). Metatypy. In K. Brown (ed.), Encyclopedia of language and linguistics (2nd ed.). Oxford: Elsevier.

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