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Elision is the omission of one or more sounds (such as a vowel, a consonant, or a whole syllable) in a word or phrase, producing a result that is easier for the speaker to pronounce. Sometimes, sounds may be elided for euphonic effect.
In English, elision is often unintentional, giving a result that may in some cases be impressionistically described as "slurred" or "muted." Often, however, the elision is deliberate, as in the use of contractions.
An example of deliberate elision occurs in Latin poetry as a stylistic device. Under certain circumstances, such as one word ending in a vowel and the following word beginning in a vowel, the words may be elided together. Elision was a common device in the works of Catullus. For example, the opening line of Catullus 3 is: Lugete, O Veneres Cupidinesque, but would be read as Lugeto Veneres Cupidinesque.
A synonym for elision is syncope, though the latter term is most often associated with the elision of vowels between consonants (e.g., Latin tabula → Spanish tabla). Another form of elision is apheresis, which means elision at the beginning of a word (generally of an unstressed vowel).
The opposite of elision is epenthesis, whereby sounds are inserted into a word to ease pronunciation.
A special form of elision called ecthlipsis is used in Latin poetry when a word ending in the letter "m" is followed by a word beginning with a vowel, e.g., "...et mutam nequiquam adloquerer cinerem." = "...et mutam nequiquadloquerer cinerem." - Catullus 101.
Written representation[edit | edit source]
Even though the effort that it takes to pronounce a word does not hold any influence in writing, a word or phrase may be spelled the same as it is spoken, for example, in poetry or in the script for a theatre play, in order to show the actual speech of a character. It may also be used in an attempt to transcribe non-standard speech. Also, some kinds of elision (as well as other phonological devices) are commonly used in poetry in order to preserve a particular rhythm.
In some languages employing the Latin alphabet, such as English, the omitted letters in a contraction are replaced by an apostrophe (e.g., isn't for is not). Greek, which uses its own alphabet, marks elision in the same way.
Examples[edit | edit source]
|Note: This page contains|
IPA phonetic symbols
English[edit | edit source]
Examples of elision in English:
|comfortable:||Template:IPA-en||→ /ˈkʌmftəɹbəl/ (rhotic English), /ˈkʌmftəbəl/ (non-rhotic English)|
|laboratory:||/læˈbɔɹətɔɹi/||→ /ˈlæbɹətɔɹi/ (American English), /ˈləbɒɹətɹi/ (British English)|
|temperature:||/ˈtɛmpəɹətʃəɹ/||→ /ˈtɛmpəɹtʃəɹ/, /ˈtɛmpɹətʃə/|
|vegetable:||/ˈvɛdʒətəbəl/||→ /ˈvɛdʒtəbəl/, /ˈvɛtʃtəbəl/|
French[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Elision in the French language
Elision of unstressed vowels is common in the French language, and accepted as part of the standard pronunciation and grammar in numerous cases.
German[edit | edit source]
Nouns and adjectives that end with unstressed "el" or "er" have the "e" elided when they are declined or a suffix follows. ex. teuer becomes teure, teuren, etc., and Himmel + -isch becomes himmlisch.
The final "e" of a noun is also elided when another noun or suffix is concatenated onto it. ex. Strafe + Gesetzbuch becomes Strafgesetzbuch.
In both of the above cases the "e" represents a schwa.
Irish[edit | edit source]
Elision is found in the Ulster dialect of Irish, particularly in final position. Iontach, for example, while pronounced ['i:ntəx] in the Conamara dialect, is pronounced ['intə] in Ulster. n is also elided when it begins intervocalic consonant clusters. Anró is pronounced aró; muintir is pronounced muitir.
Japanese[edit | edit source]
Elision is extremely common in the pronunciation of the Japanese language. In general, a high vowel (/i/ or /u/) that appears in a low-pitched syllable between two voiceless consonants is devoiced, and often deleted outright. However, unlike French or English, Japanese does not often show elision in writing. The process is purely phonetic, and varies considerably depending on the dialect or level of formality. A few examples (slightly exaggerated; apostrophes added to indicate elision):
- Matsushita-san wa imasu ka? ("Is Mr. Matsushita in?")
- Pronounced: matsush'tasanwa imas'ka
- roku, shichi, hachi ("six, seven, eight")
- Pronounced: rok', shich', hach'
- Shitsurei shimasu ("Excuse me")
- Pronounced: sh'ts'reishimas'
Gender roles also influence elision in Japanese. It is considered masculine to elide, especially the final u of the polite verb forms (-masu, desu), whereas women are traditionally encouraged to do the opposite. However, excessive elision is generally viewed as basilectic, and inadequate elision is seen as overly fussy or old-fashioned. Some nonstandard dialects, such as Satsuma-ben, are known for their extensive elision.
Malayalam[edit | edit source]
Dropping of sounds in connected speech (as Elision) is very common in this south Indian language (of the state of Kerala). Native Malayalam speakers are very much used to it.
"entha" becomes "ntha" "ippol" becomes "ippo"
Spanish[edit | edit source]
- tabla from Latin tabula
- isla from Latin insula (through *isula)
- alma from Latin anima (with dissimilation of -nm- to -lm-)
- hembra from Latin femina (with lenition of f- to h-, dissimilation of -mn- to -mr- and then epenthesis of -mr- to -mbr-'
In addition, speakers often employ crasis or elision between two words to avoid a hiatus caused by vowels – the choice of which to use depends upon whether or not the vowels are identical.
Tamil[edit | edit source]
|Aaythakkurukkam||the special character akh|
Finnish[edit | edit source]
The consonant in the partitive case ending -ta elides when surrounded by two short vowels except when the first of the two vowels involved is paragoge (added to the stem). Otherwise, it stays. For example, katto+ta → kattoa, ranta+ta → rantaa, but työ+tä → työtä (not a short vowel), mies+ta → miestä (consonant stem), jousi+ta → jousta (paragogic i on a consonant stem).
Welsh[edit | edit source]
Elision is a major feature of Welsh, found commonly in verb forms, as in the following examples:
- Ydych chi'n (chi yn) hoffi'r (hoffi yr) coffi? (Do you like the coffee?)
- Ble mae'r (mae yr) dre? (Where is the town?)
- Rydw i'n (i yn) darllen. (I am reading)
See also[edit | edit source]
- Relaxed pronunciation
- Elision in the French language
References[edit | edit source]
Notes[edit | edit source]
General references[edit | edit source]
- Crowley, Terry. (1997) An Introduction to Historical Linguistics. 3rd edition. Oxford University Press.
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