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For a previous debate over the deletion of this article see Wikipedia:Votes for deletion/Epenthesis.

This seems to be a real term (see [1]), but maybe it's more appropriate for Wiktionary? — A.M. 15:24, 30 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Choral meaning[edit]

"Epenthesis" has one more meaning, namely an extra note inserted into the formulas of gregorian chant according to the need of the stress pattern of the text. There should be a disambiguation page and two separate pages for Ephentesis (phonetics) and Ephentesis (musicology). -- (talk) 14:58, 11 October 2009 (UTC)


PuzzletChung suggested merging this with with Epenthetic vowel a month ago and there's been no discussion. I think it's a good idea, since both articles are still rather short. If the section on epenthetic vowels later grows big, it can be broken out again. In the meantime, one medium-sized article is better than two little ones. Other opinions? --Angr/tɔk tə mi 18:02, 10 October 2005 (UTC)

Go for it; it seems very appropriate to me. -CHG

Yes, of course. It's doubtful a combined article will become that large anytime soon. kwami 04:08, 26 October 2005 (UTC)

Done. kwami 15:14, 22 November 2005 (UTC)


'Similarly, the English language adds a "t" in certain circumstances, for example, to distinguish an "l" from an "r", as in "deviltry". It's permissible to say "devilry", but this apparently takes a rare precision of speech.'

This statement is astounding. I have NEVER heard "devilry" pronounced as "deviltry". --Twenex 04:05, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
I'll see if I can find a better example of a consonant-insertion phonological rule. --Kjoonlee 17:18, 9 October 2006 (UTC)
The only examples I can find right now are dance, strength, and hamster. Hamster is already in the article in a different paragraph. I wouldn't call any of these "euphonic," whatever that may mean. --Kjoonlee 17:25, 9 October 2006 (UTC)
Oh, and judging from, deviltry is just an alternate spelling (and pronunciation) for the same word. --Kjoonlee 17:27, 9 October 2006 (UTC)

English Plurals[edit]

I said that I could add this if anyone disagreed with my edit, but I'm adding it now while I'm thinking of it. I'm using an ASCII approximation of IPA, so the vowels are not all right. I'm using the SAMPA @ for schwa. But the consonants are the important part here.

To start with, the reason that we get changes in the suffix is because certain sound pairs are not allowed. To find the root form, we look at words that end with /l/ and /r/ since they allow both /-s/ and /-z/. For example, both "hears" /herz/ and "hearse" /h@rs/ are both words. So we know that being preceded by an /r/ will not change the root from /s/ to /z/ or vice versa. So look at some examples -- "potters" /pot@rz/, "boars" /borz/, "mirrors", /mir@rz/. If the root form were /-s/ then we would expect to these words to end in /s/ and not /z/. A similar experiment can be done with /t/ versus /d/. and to distinguish /-d/ from /-@d/. Since the sounds /l/ and /r/ don't cause sound change in the roots (we know this because none of the sounds we see as pronunciation of the roots is forbidden after them) the form of the root that we find with them must be the original form, and the others must be derived from it. Vishahu 22:22, 29 March 2007 (UTC)


"As a historical sound change" and "As a grammatical rule" should both be in a section titled "As a phonetic rule". There is not merely grammatical - vocalic epenthesis exists because a language does not permit certain formations. The well-known example for many English speakers is Spanish (no s+consonant allowed, therefore adds e-; this is also the rule in Turkish and Persian (which add i-), to some degree in Arabic (which is just as likely to insert the vowel (i or sort of a schwa like in Hebrew) medially between s and the consonant as before), and formerly in French (before it then lost the s - examples would be: ecole, etudier, etre, epice). In Italian s+consonant is fine, unless the preceding letter is a consonant (most obviously manifesting itself in the rules for articles for words beginning with s+consonant). (In German, instead of adding a vowel the s is softened to sh.)

In Japanese (and Korean?) consonants really are always followed with a vowel, so any consonant cluster has to be broken up with a vowel to keep this rule true.

Palatalisation can be seen as the insertion of y (which is in some ways a consonant) after a consonant. In Slavic languages, there is the idea of iotation or yat (see also: In South Slavic languages at least, there exists the ideas of "nepostojano" a and e, an a or e that appears before a final consonant cluster unless that consonant cluster is not followed by a vowel (usually only the case for masculine singular nouns and if they are indefinite then also their adjectives).

My main points: 1) contextless examples are no good, instead explain the concept (and its widespread manifestations) and describe where it occurs in general and not in single words 2) this is a grammatical rule only because phonetics is a subfield of grammar

"vocalic epenthesis exists because a language does not permit certain formations." -- these sorts of rules of what is or is not permitted in the sounds of a language are covered by the division of grammar known as 'phonology'. That is what is meant by "grammatical rule', ie 'synchronic phonological rule'.--Gheuf 20:05, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

Does anybody know if there are dialects of Dutch that add a vowel between l and a following non-alveolar consonant, or is just a unique trait of my grandparents' speech? I've observed my grandmother saying something like [ˈmɛlɨk] (melk, Dutch for milk) for example, and in other dutch words like twaalf (twelve), and in her English speech as well in words like self, but she pronounces her own name, Aaltje without any epenthetical vowel.


I believe there is some risk for confusion with assimilation here. I believe that, to some extent, the examples given for excrescence (pronunciations of hamster, warmth, fence and family) would also be good examples of (mostly, I think) anticipatory assimilation. While I understand that excrescence is mostly acquired, assimilation is a phoneme switch occurring for what are pretty much morphological reasons - this I believe applies to the aforementioned examples. Also, in French, pronunciation of "atlɑs" as "aklɑs" or of "de la glace" as "glaglas" (sorry, not too sure about IPA brackets here vs wiki formatting) has nothing to do with a more familiar level of speech but are examples of anticipatory assimilation (which, it is true, occurs only when speaking at some speed). In other words, a speaker displaying epenthesis could be viewed as making mistakes, but a speaker displaying assimilation could not (I think). The "lalaization" of Quebec French, whereby the negative particle "n'" is replaced by "l'" which is otherwise an article (e.g. "ça n'a pas de sens" vs. "ça l'a pas de sens" - both meaning "that does not make any sense") clearly is some form of epenthesis, but not assimilation. But I'll let more knowledgeable people sort that out and edit as they see fit.Nicsilo (talk) 04:37, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

Added 'r'[edit]

How would you classify anaptyxis plus adding an 'r' on the end of a word: In some parts of New England (Medford - Wakefield, MA), at least, it's not uncommon in informal speech to hear 'Cleopaterer' for 'Cleopatra', etc.?Kbk (talk) 21:38, 26 July 2008 (UTC)

Confusion with metathesis?[edit]

I had always understood that the mispronunciation of "nuclear" was an example of metathesis, rather than epenthesis. Am I correct? Robert A.West (Talk) 17:29, 29 July 2008 (UTC)

How about President G.W. Bush's pronunciation which sounds like "noo-killer"? I have difficulty figuring out what happens there. The only surviving feature of the original word is that the consonants are in the correct order. Is it idiosyncratic or a known feature of Northeastern or Texan US English? (Apparently his speech has features of both varieties) Roger (talk) 12:14, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

Personal theory: Back-formation from "nuk" as in "nuk" -> "nuk-lɝ" -> "nuke-u-lɝ" I'm not sure what sort of phonological rules cause the u epenthesis, but I'm pretty sure it's there. (talk) 14:10, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

Nukiller is exactly the form that would result from metathesis of nuklee-er, but it's probably from -cular (/kjɘlɘr/) by reduction of the schwa to nothing and vocalization of the j to i. — Erutuon (talk) 20:15, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

Uses of epenthesis[edit]

Epenthesis is generally used to make a word easier to pronounce in some way. For instance, epenthesis of a vowel breaks up consonant clusters that are not native to a language or are composed of dissimilar sounds. Adding a consonant may be used for the same thing, or to separate two vowels that do not form a diphthong.

This would be a helpful thing to add to the article. Does anyone know of existing terms for these different uses? — Eru·tuon 02:59, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

English grammar[edit]

I disagree with the inclusion of English plurals and past tense/past participles in this article. I don't remember enough about linguistics to have a good solid argument, but I do remember a lot about English language history, so I'll try.

The definition of epenthesis is that when something is difficult to say, a new sound is added to make it easier to say. In English, plurals and past tense exist already as easy-to-say words. Also, they are an actual rule in English. That's the thing that strikes me most strangely. Epenthesis and other phonetic variations should be isolated as a variation, not one of the main rules of a language. The rule of English is to add -s OR -es depending on the root, and to add -d OR -ed, or -n OR -en. When you learn English you learn it that way. When I learned Old and Middle English, I had to learn the different plural endings and verb endings, of which there are a lot, and it's the same with any other language. You don't learn only one ending and then try to adapt it to other words based on epenthesis. Upon this argument I suggest this portion of the article be rethought. Alternatively, please let me know if I'm mistaken. easytoplease (talk) 23:04, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

"v" in "Peruvian"[edit]

... or Thoreauvian, Rousseauvian, etc. Can't think of an example that's not a proper adjective, right now. Should this be added to the "English" section? --Trovatore (talk) 07:44, 11 January 2013 (UTC)

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We don't want to just make an uncomfortably long list of English examples, but, still, I would think that the most conspicuous case in English is film --> fil'-um. Kdammers (talk) 06:42, 7 May 2014 (UTC)

Final [e] → [ej] in English[edit]

Why English speakers pronounce words like "cafe", "ballet" and so on as if they where "cafey", "balley", ...? Is this addition of that final [j] (or [ɪ]?) an example of a spoken epenthesis? Is the final [e] not permitted at all in English, or there are examples where it is possible? — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 01:13, 9 September 2015 (UTC)

Long A in English is a diphthong [ej]. To most native speakers, it sounds as if they are simply making one sound, when in fact we are making one phoneme with two sounds.Kdammers (talk) 10:13, 17 September 2015 (UTC)

-ista in Finnish elative[edit]

(Same with -issa [inessive] or -illa [adessive]). While Bushista (from "Bush") is/was indeed in use, I am not so sure about others. (Any Finns around here? :)) I've also seen oddly-looking constructions like :sta, :ssa with the foreign word suffixed by a colon and the case ending added to it, omitting the i at the same time. -andy (talk) 19:51, 7 January 2016 (UTC)

Spanish consonant clusters[edit]

In the section "When borrowing words", we find Spanish does not tolerate clusters at the beginning of a word with an /s/ in them, and is well known for adding e- to such words, e.g. especia < spice, estándar < standard, estrés < stress. Could we get an example here that isn't first an example of needing the prothetic value before an /s/? Or is this section bogus, because it has nothing to do with being borrowed words? --jpgordon𝄢𝄆 𝄐𝄇 13:43, 5 November 2016 (UTC)

added "r" in "wash"[edit]

Does anybody know which dialects of American English pronounce "wash" as "warsh"? The article says "some dialects of American English" but it never states which ones. I myself am only curious.LakeKayak (talk) 02:09, 1 April 2017 (UTC)