Apheresis (linguistics)

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Sound change and alternation
Fortition
Dissimilation

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

Etymology[edit]

Apheresis comes from Greek ἀφαίρεσις from ἀπό apo, "away" and αἱρέω haireo, "to take."

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/; from Greek ἄφεσις).

Loss of any sound[edit]

Loss of an unstressed vowel[edit]

  • Greek epískopos > Vulgar Latin *ebiscopus > Old English bisceop 'bishop'
  • English acute > cute
  • Middle English Egipcien > gipcyan, gipsen 'Gypsy'[1]
  • English amend > mend
  • English escape + 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]

  • Spanish está > familiar Spanish [e]tá > ta ('is')
  • English oath God's truth > familiar Australian English: strewth (exclamation)
  • 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.