Apheresis (linguistics)

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Sound change and alternation
Fortition
Dissimilation

In phonetics, apheresis (/əˈfɛrɨsɪs/ or /əˈfɪərɨsɪs/; British English: aphaeresis; from Greek apo away, hairein to take) is the loss of one or more sounds from the beginning of a word, especially the loss of an unstressed vowel.

Apheresis as a historical sound change[edit]

In historical phonetics, the term "apheresis" is often but not always limited to the loss of an unstressed vowel. (The Oxford English Dictionary gives this particular kind of apheresis the name aphesis /ˈæfɨsɪs/.)

Loss of any sound[edit]

Loss of an unstressed vowel[edit]

  • Greek epískopos > Vulgar Latin *ebiscopus > Old English bisceop ‘bishop’
  • English [a]cute > cute
  • Middle English Egipcien > gipcyan, gipsen ‘Gypsy’[1]
  • English [a]mend > mend
  • English [e]scape + goat > scapegoat[2]
  • Old French e(s)vanisse > Middle English vanisshen ‘vanish’
  • Old French estable > English stable
  • Old French estrange > English strange
  • English esquire > squire
  • Greek Assyria > Syria

Aphaeresis as a poetic device[edit]

  • English it is > poetic ’tis
  • English upon > ’pon

Aphaeresis in informal speech[edit]

  • Portuguese está > stá or tá[?] ("is" and "yes/ok./, ins't?/, aren't?" for the second contracted form)
  • English oath God's truth > Familiar Australian English exclamation strewth
  • English America > 'murica

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary, Gypsy. Retrieved 2010-07-13.
  2. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary, Scapegoat. Retrieved 2012-06-05.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Crowley, Terry. (1997) An Introduction to Historical Linguistics. 3rd edition. Oxford University Press.