Ask a question about 'Aphesis'
Start a new discussion about 'Aphesis'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
In phonetics
Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that comprises the study of the sounds of human speech, or—in the case of sign languages—the equivalent aspects of sign. It is concerned with the physical properties of speech sounds or signs : their physiological production, acoustic properties, auditory...

, apheresis (icon or ə; ; from Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 apo away, hairein to take) is the loss of one or more sounds from the beginning of a word, especially the loss of an unstressed vowel.

Apheresis as a historical sound change

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/.)

The loss of any sound

  • English
    English language
    English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

     [k]nife pronounced /ˈnaɪf/
  • Proto-Norse
    Proto-Norse language
    Proto-Norse was an Indo-European language spoken in Scandinavia that is thought to have evolved as a northern dialect of Proto-Germanic over the first centuries AD...

     *[st]randa- (Swedish
    Swedish language
    Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

     strand) > Finnish
    Finnish language
    Finnish is the language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland Primarily for use by restaurant menus and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. It is one of the two official languages of Finland and an official minority language in Sweden. In Sweden, both standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a...

     ranta "beach"

The loss of an unstressed vowel

  • Greek
    Koine Greek
    Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

     episkopos > Vulgar Latin
    Vulgar Latin
    Vulgar Latin is any of the nonstandard forms of Latin from which the Romance languages developed. Because of its nonstandard nature, it had no official orthography. All written works used Classical Latin, with very few exceptions...

     [e]biscopu > English bishop
  • English [a]cute > cute
  • English [E]gyptian > Gyptian > Gypsy
  • English [a]mend > mend
  • English [e]scape + goat > scapegoat
  • Old French
    Old French
    Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

     evaniss > English vanish
  • Old French estable > English stable
  • Old French estrange > English strange
  • English esquire > squire
  • Akkadian
    Akkadian language
    Akkadian is an extinct Semitic language that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest attested Semitic language, it used the cuneiform writing system derived ultimately from ancient Sumerian, an unrelated language isolate...

     Ashuraya > Shuraya

Aphaeresis in informal speech

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

See also

  • Syncope
  • Apocope
    In phonology, apocope is the loss of one or more sounds from the end of a word, and especially the loss of an unstressed vowel.-Historical sound change:...

  • Elision
    Elision is the omission of one or more sounds in a word or phrase, producing a result that is easier for the speaker to pronounce...

  • List of phonetics topics