S Spotting


Somewhere you’ve probably read or heard the colloquial version of expect, as when cowpokes say ‘I ‘spect it’s goin’ to rain’.  I’ve been hearing and reading (tweets on Twitter) other examples of this phonological reduction:

  • I ate so much chocolate I was about to ‘splode (explode)
  • I like car crashes and ‘splosions in action films. (explosions)
  • He ‘spresses himself pretty bluntly. (expresses)
  • Can you ‘splain it to me in simple English? (explain)

But what about these?

  • I’ve lowered my ‘spectations. (expectations)
  • We ‘splored the shops downtown. (explored)
  • The rules aren’t ‘splicit about it. (explicit)
  • The coupon already ‘spired. (expired)

Does the reduction work for the other voiceless stops, t, k, in the environment of ex-?

  • We had termites and had to ‘sterminate them. (exterminate)
  • “What a cute puppy!” she ‘sclaimed.  (exclaimed)
  • They have ‘stended the deadline another week. (extended)
  • No more ‘scuses.  (excuses)

The generalization to t and k doesn’t work too well for my intuitions, but maybe it’s just from a lack of  ‘sposure to such examples? 🙂

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This entry was posted in language change, language variation, pronunciation and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to S Spotting

  1. bbear says:

    English has such a huge vocabulary that there are even terms to describe the elision of various parts of a word.

    The kind here, where the initial part is elided, is called aphaeresis. And aphaeresis when the part elided is a short unaccented vowel is known as aphesis (e.g., lone for alone)…

    Elision of the end of a word is called apocope (e.g., tho for though)…

    Elision of an interior part of a word is syncope or hyphaeresis (e.g., di’mond for diamond , fo’c’sle for forecastle, o’er for over, e’en for even, heav’n for heaven). Students of Greek grammar–of which I am certainly not one–will make a distinction between syncope and hyphaeresis, depending on what’s being elided…

    Finally, in terms of pronunciation, there is enclisis, enclitic referring to words pronounced as part of the preceding word (e.g., thee as in prithee, not as in cannot, will as ‘ll in they’ll); and proclisis, proclitic referring to words pronounced as part of the following word (e.g., it as ‘t in ’tis)…

  2. achouston says:

    Thanks for the nice overview of linguistic terminology related to these phonological processes. My all-time favorite proclitic is probably t’aint, as in “t’aint necessarily so”.

  3. Good way of telling, and pleasant article to take facts concerning my presentation subject matter,
    which i am going to present in university.

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