Saturday, June 2, 2007


Losing Sounds: Elision

In rapid speech, some sounds can be left out, or elided, without damaging the shape of the words. The technical term for this is elision. It often occurs with clusters of consonants.

postman pos(t)man
mashed potatoes mash(ed) potatoes
next week nex(t) week

Some English words are quite hard to pronounce without any elision, such as asthma, facts, twelfths. In some words, the weak vowels can also be elided.

library lib(ra)ry laibri
history hist(o)ry histri
policeman p(o)liceman plism n
government gov(ern)ment g vm nt

English spelling provides evidence of historical elision - sounds that were once pronounced but are no longer.

listen, answer, thistle, walk, climb.

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