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Sound change and alternation
Fortition (strengthening)

Hiatus (English: /haɪˈeɪtəs/; Latin: /hiˈaːtus/ "yawning") in linguistics is the separate pronunciation of two adjacent vowels. In poetic metre (or "poetic meter"), hiatus can also refer to the failure of two vowels straddling a word boundary to coalesce, for example by elision of the first vowel.

In written English it was formerly common to use a diaeresis mark (or "trema") to indicate a hiatus (for example: coöperate, daïs, reëlect), but this is increasingly rare in modern English. Nowadays the diaeresis is normally left out (cooperate), or a hyphen is used (co-operate). It is, however, still common in loanwords such as naïve and Noël.

Many languages disallow hiatus, avoiding it either by deleting or assimilating the vowel, or by adding an extra consonant. In particular, some (but not all) non-rhotic dialects of English insert an /r/ to avoid hiatus after many vowels, although prescriptive guides for Received Pronunciation discourage this.[1]

A glottal stop or a glide may be added between vowels to prevent hiatus. The word hiatus is sometimes pronounced this way: hiyatus (/haɪˈjeɪtəs/).

In Greek and Latin poetry, hiatus is generally avoided, though it does occur in many authors under certain rules with varying degrees of poetic licence. Hiatus may be avoided by elision of a final vowel, occasionally prodelision (elision of initial vowel) and synizesis (pronunciation of two vowels as one without change in writing).

Correption is the shortening of a long vowel before a short vowel in hiatus.


  1. ^ "Voice and Speech in the Theatre"

See also



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