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Sound change and alternation
Fortition (strengthening)
Dissimilation

In phonology, apocope (pronounced /əˈpɒkəpiː/, from the Greek apokoptein "cutting off", from apo- "away from" and koptein "to cut") is the loss of one or more sounds from the end of a word, and especially the loss of an unstressed vowel.

Contents

Historical sound change

In historical phonetics, the term apocope is often (but not always) limited to the loss of an unstressed vowel.

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Loss of an unstressed vowel (with nasal)

  • Vulgar Latin pan[em] > Spanish pan ("bread")
  • Vulgar Latin lup[um] > French loup ("wolf")

Loss of other sounds

  • Latin illu[d] > Spanish ello

Case marker

In the Estonian language and Sami languages, apocopes help explain the forms of grammatical cases. For example, a nominative is described as having apocope of the final vowel, whereas the genitive does not. Throughout its history, however, the genitive case marker has also undergone apocope: linn ("a city") vs. linna ("of a city"), is derived from linna and linnan, respectively. In the genitive form, final /n/, while being deleted, blocked the loss of /a/. In spoken Finnish, the final vowel is sometimes omitted from case markers.

Grammatical rule

Some languages have apocopations internalized as mandatory forms. In Spanish and Italian, for example, some adjectives that come before the noun lose the final vowel or syllable when they precede a noun (mainly) in the masculine singular form. In Spanish some adverbs, cardinal and ordinal numbers have apocopations as well.

  • Adjectives
    • Grande ("big"/"great") → grangran aventura (feminine) ("great adventure". Currently, never "grande aventura", except in comparative forms: la más grande carrera)
    • Bueno ("good") → buenbuen hombre (masculine) ("good man")
  • Adverbs
    • Mucho ("very") → muymuy cansado ("very tired")
    • Tanto ("so") → tantan hermoso ("so beautiful")
  • Cardinal numbers
  • Ordinal numbers
    • Primero ("first") → primerprimer premio ("first prize")
    • Tercero ("third") → tercertercer lugar ("third place")

Informal speech

Various sorts of informal abbreviations might be classed as apocope:

  • English photograph > photo
  • French réactionnaire > réac "reactionary"
  • English animation > Japanese anime-shon > anime
  • English synchronization > sync
  • English Alexander > Alex and so on with other diminutives
  • Spanish fotografía > foto "photography"
  • Spanish televisión > tele "television"

For a list of similar apocopations in the English language, see List of English apocopations. These processes are also linguistically subsumed under a process called truncation.

See also

References

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

External links


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