Elision is the omission of one or more sounds
(such as a vowel,
or a whole syllable)
in a word or phrase, producing a result that is easier
for the speaker to pronounce. Sometimes, sounds may be
elided for euphonic
Elision is normally unintentional, but it may be deliberate.
The result may be impressionistically described as "slurred"
An example of deliberate elision occurs in Latin poetry
as a stylistic
device. Under certain circumstances, such as one word
ending in a vowel and the following word beginning in
a vowel, the words may be elided together. Elision was
a common device in the works of Catullus.
For example, the opening line of Catullus 3 is: Lugete,
O Veneres Cupidinesque, but would be read as Lugeto
The elided form of a word or phrase may become a standard
alternative for the full form, if used often enough. In
this is called a contraction,
such as can't from cannot. Contraction differs
from elision in that contractions are set forms that have
but elisions are not.
for elision is syncope,
though the latter term is most often associated with the
elision of vowels between consonants (e.g., Latin tabula
→ Spanish tabla). Another form of elision
which means elision at the beginning of a word (generally
of an unstressed vowel).
take the form of elision. See disfix.
The opposite of elision is epenthesis,
whereby sounds are inserted into a word to ease pronunciation.
A special form of elision called ecthlipsis is used in
Latin poetry when a word ending in the letter "m" is followed
by a word beginning with a vowel, e.g., "...et mutam nequiquam
adloquerer cinerem." = "...et mutam nequiquadloquerer
cinerem." - Catullus 101.
The omission of a word from a phrase or sentence is not
elision but ellipsis
or, more accurately, elliptical
Even though the effort that it takes to pronounce a word
does not hold any influence in writing, a word or phrase
may be spelled the same as it is spoken, for example,
or in the script for a theatre
play, in order to show the actual speech of a character.
It may also be used in an attempt to transcribe non-standard
speech. Also, some kinds of elision (as well as other
phonological devices) are commonly used in poetry in order
to preserve a particular rhythm.
In some languages employing the Latin
alphabet, such as English, the omitted letters in
a contraction are replaced by an apostrophe.
Greek, which uses its own alphabet, marks elision in the
Examples of elision in English (help:Pronunciation):
(American English), /ləˈbɔrətri/
Elision is extremely common in the pronunciation of the
language. In general, a high vowel (/i/
that appears in a low-pitched syllable between two voiceless
consonants is devoiced, and often deleted outright. However,
unlike French or English, Japanese does not often show
elision in writing. The process is purely phonetic, and
varies considerably depending on the dialect or level
of formality. A few examples (slightly exaggerated; apostrophes
added to indicate elision):
- Matsushita-san wa imasu ka? ("Is Mr. Matsushita
- Pronounced: matsush'tasanwa imas'ka
- IPA: [matsɯɕtasɑ̃wa
- roku, shichi, hachi ("six, seven, eight")
- Pronounced: rok', shich', hach'
- IPA: [ɺokɯ̥
- Shitsurei shimasu ("Excuse me")
- Pronounced: sh'ts'reishimas'
- IPA: [ɕi̥tsɯ̥ɺeː
Gender roles also influence elision in Japanese. It is
considered masculine to elide, especially the final u
of the polite verb forms (-masu, desu),
whereas women are traditionally encouraged to do the opposite.
However, excessive elision is generally viewed as basilectic,
and inadequate elision is seen as overly fussy or old-fashioned.
dialects, such as Satsuma-ben, are known for their
The change of Latin
into the Romance
languages included a significant amount of elision,
(loss of medial vowels). In Spanish,
for example, we have:
- tabla from Latin tabula
- isla from Latin insula (through *isula)
- alma from Latin anima (with dissimilation
of -nm- to -lm-)
- hembra from Latin femina (with lenition
of f- to h-, dissimilation of -mn-
to -mr- and then epenthesis
of -mr- to -mbr-'
has a set of rules for elision. They are categorised into
classes based on the phoneme
where elision occurs.
||the special character akh
The consonant in the partitive
case ending -ta elides when surrounded by two
short vowels, except when the first vowel is paragoge.
Otherwise it stays. For example, katto+ta →
kattoa, ranta+ta → rantaa,
but työ+tä → työtä
(not a short vowel), mies+ta → miestä
(consonant stem), jousi+ta → jousta
(paragogic i on a consonant stem).
- Crowley, Terry. (1997) An Introduction to Historical
Linguistics. 3rd edition. Oxford University Press.