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Sound change and alternation

In phonology, apocope (/əˈpɒkəp/) is the loss of one or more sounds from the end of a word, and especially the loss of an unstressed vowel.


Apocope comes from Greek ἀποκοπή apokope from ἀποκόπτειν apokoptein, "cutting off", from ἀπο- apo-, "away from" and κόπτειν koptein, "to cut."

Historical sound change[edit]

In historical phonetics, the term apocope is often (but not always) limited to the loss of an unstressed vowel.

Loss of an unstressed vowel (with nasal)[edit]

  • Vulgar Latin pan[em] > Spanish pan (bread)
  • Vulgar Latin lup[um] > French lou[p] (wolf)

Loss of other sounds[edit]

  • Latin illu[d] > Spanish ello

Case marker[edit]

In the Estonian language and Sami languages, apocopes help explain the forms of grammatical cases. For example, a nominative is described as having apocope of the final vowel, whereas the genitive does not. Throughout its history, however, the genitive case marker has also undergone apocope: linn (a city) vs linna (of a city), is derived from linna and linnan, respectively. In the genitive form, final /n/, while being deleted, blocked the loss of /a/. In spoken Finnish, the final vowel is sometimes omitted from case markers.

Grammatical rule[edit]

Some languages have apocopations internalized as mandatory forms. In Spanish and Italian, for example, some adjectives that come before the noun lose the final vowel or syllable when they precede a noun (mainly) in the masculine singular form. In Spanish some adverbs, cardinal and ordinal numbers have apocopations as well.

  • Adjectives
    • Grande (big/great) → grangran mujer (feminine) (great woman. However, if the adjective follows the noun, the final syllable remains, but the meaning may also change: mujer grande, meaning large woman)
    • Bueno (good) → buenbuen hombre (masculine) (good man; the final vowel remains in hombre bueno, with no accompanying change in meaning)
  • Adverbs
    • Tanto (so much) → tan (so) → tan hermoso (so beautiful)
  • Cardinal numbers
  • Ordinal numbers
    • Primero (first) → primerprimer premio (first prize)
    • Tercero (third) → tercertercer lugar (third place)

Informal speech[edit]

Various sorts of informal abbreviations might be classed as apocope:

  • English photograph > photo
  • French sympathique(s) > sympa meaning nice
  • French réactionnaire > réac meaning reactionary
  • English animation > Japanese アニメーション animēshon > アニメ anime
  • English synchronization > sync, synch, syncro, or synchro
  • English Alexander > Alex and so on with other hypocorisms
  • Spanish fotografía > foto meaning photography
  • Spanish televisión > tele meaning television

For a list of similar apocopations in the English language, see List of English apocopations. These processes are also linguistically subsumed under a process called clipping or truncation.

See also[edit]


  • Crowley, Terry. (1997) An Introduction to Historical Linguistics. 3rd edition. Oxford University Press.

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apocope — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.

3 news items


Fri, 18 Jul 2014 06:49:07 -0700

Déjà opérationnels ou encore en phase de test, voici 26 exemples de déploiement du système iBeacon aux États-Unis, Australie, Nouvelle Zélande, Royaume Uni, Pays-Bas, Brésil ou France. Réunis par Apocope, agence spécialisée dans les stratégies ...


Mon, 21 Jul 2014 07:22:42 -0700

Ja voor de opening hadden we HOMEMADE #3 waar 6 top producers draaide, zoals Jeftuz, Jaël, Bananaz, The Apocope, Roendy Rosanjo, Cazz Major en HOMEMADE himself Koen. Dit was echt een groot succes, ik denk dat er over de hele avond wel zo'n ...

Diario C

Diario C
Fri, 18 Jul 2014 06:41:15 -0700

Asimismo contaron sus historias personales, algunas francamente enternecedoras como las de Inés y Quipi (apocope de su apellido Quipildor), quienes viven un apasionado romance desde hace 5 años. O la del brasileño Junior Da Silva quien se vistió con ...

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