English in Use/Orthography

English in Use
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Letters edit

A a, B b, C c, D d, E e, F f, G g, H h, I i, J j, K k, L l, M m, N n, O o, P p, Q q, R r, S s, T t, U u, V v, W w, X x, Y y, Z z.

The names of the letters, as now commonly spoken and written in American English, are: Ay, Bee, Cee, Dee, Ee, Ef, Gee, Aitch, Eye, Jay, Kay, El, Em, En, Oh, Pee, Kew, Ar, Es, Tee, You, Vee, Double-You, Ecks, Why, Zee (or Zed in British English).

A vowel is a letter which forms a perfect sound when pronounced alone. The vowels are a, e, i, o, u, partly w and sometimes y. All the other letters are consonants.

A consonant is a letter which cannot be perfectly pronounced until joined to a vowel. B, c, and d. W and y are consonants when they precede a vowel heard in the same syllable, as in wine, twine, whine, year, yet, and youth; in all other cases, these letters are vowels, as in Yssel, Ystadt, yttria, newly, dewy, and eyebrow.

A semivowel is a consonant which can be imperfectly sounded without a vowel, so that at the end of a syllable its sound may be protracted; for example, l, n, and z, in al, an, and az. The semivowels are: f, h, j, l, m, n, r, s, v, w, x, y, z, and soft c and g; but w or y at the end of a syllable are vowels, and the sounds of c, f, g, h, j, s, and x can be protracted only as an aspirate, or strong breath.

Four of the semivowels—l, m, n, and r—are termed liquids, on account of the fluency of their sounds; and four others—v, w, y, and z—are likewise more vocal than the aspirates.

A mute is a consonant which cannot be sounded at all without a vowel, and which at the end of a syllable suddenly stops the breath; for example, k, p, and t, in ak, ap, and at. The mutes are eight: b, d, k, p, q, t, and hard c and g; three of these—k, q, and hard c—sound exactly alike, and b, d, and hard g stop the voice less suddenly than the rest.

Powers of the letters edit

The powers of the letters are those elementary sounds which their figures are used to represent. The simple elementary sounds of any language are few, commonly not more than thirty-six. Different vowel sounds are produced by opening the mouth differently, and placing the tongue in a peculiar manner for each; but the voice may vary in loudness, pitch, or time, and still utter the same vowel.

The vowel sounds are those which are heard at the beginning of the following words: ate, at, ah, all, eel, ell, isle, ill, old, on, ooze, use, us, and that of u in bull. Let us note them as plainly as possible: eigh, ~a, ah, awe, ~eh, ~e, eye, ~i, oh, ~o, oo, yew, ~u, and u. ~a is a sound generally given to the word a: as,

  • "Twice a day."

In the formation of syllables, some of these fourteen primary sounds may be joined together, as in ay, oil, out, owl. These essential sounds may be changed into a series of words by f: as, fate, fat, far, fall, feel, fell, file, fill, fold, fond, fool, fuse, fuss, full. Again, into as many with p: as, pate, pat, par, pall, peel, pell, pile, pill, pole, pond, pool, pule, purl, pull. The eight long sounds, eigh, ah, awe, eh, eye, oh, ooh, yew, may be words; but the short vowel sounds, as in at, et, it, ot, ut, put, are commonly heard only in connection with consonants.

The simple consonant sounds are twenty-two: b, d, f, g hard, h, k, l, m, n, ng, p, r, s, sh, t, th sharp, th flat, v, w, y, z, and zh. Zh is written only to show the sound of other letters: as of s in pleasure, or z in azure.

All these sounds are heard in the following words: buy, die, fie, guy, high, kie, lie, my, nigh, eying, pie, rye, sigh, shy, tie, thigh, thy, vie, we, ye, zebra, seizure. Most of them may be repeated in the same word or syllable: as, bibber, diddle, fifty, giggle, high-hung, cackle, lily, mimic, ninny, singing, pippin, mirror, hissest, flesh-brush, tittle, thither, vivid, witwal, union, dizzies, vision.

The consonants j and x represent complex sounds; hence they are never doubled. J is equivalent to dzh; and x, either to ks or to gz. The former ends no English word, and the latter begins none. To the initial z of foreign words, we always give the simple sound of z: as in Xerxes, xebec.

The consonants c and q have no sounds peculiar to themselves. Q has always the power of k. C is hard, like k, before a, o, and u; and soft, like s, before e, i, and y. Thus the syllables, ca, ce, ci, co, cu, cy, are pronounced, ka, se, si, ko, ku, sy. S before c preserves the former sound, but coalesces with the latter. Hence the syllables, sca, sce, sci, sco, scu, scy, are sounded, ska, se, si, sko, sku, sy. Ce and ci have sometimes the sound of sh: as, ocean, social. Ch commonly represents the compound sound of tsh: as in church.

G, as well as c, has different sounds before different vowels. G is always hard, or guttural, before a, o, and u; and generally soft, like j, before e, i, or y. Thus the syllables, ga, ge, gi, go, gu, gy, are pronounced ga, je, ji, go, gu, jy.

Forms of the letters edit

In printed books, the Roman characters are generally employed; sometimes, the italic. In handwriting, script letters are used.

Characters of different sorts or sizes should never be needlessly mixed; because facility of reading, as well as the beauty of a book, depends much on the regularity of its letters.

Italics are chiefly used to distinguish emphatic or remarkable words: in the Bible, they show what words were supplied by the translators.

In manuscripts, a single line drawn under a word is meant for Italics; a double line, for bold or small capitals.

Small letters constitute the body of every word; and capitals are used for the sake of eminence and distinction. Showbills, painted signs, and short inscriptions, commonly appear best in full capitals. Some of these are so copied in books: as,

  • "I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD."—Acts, xvii, 23.
  • "And they set up over his head, his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS."—Matt., xxvii, 37.

Capitals edit

When particular books are mentioned by their names, the chief words in their titles begin with capitals, and the other letters are small: as,

  • "Pope's Essay on Man,"
  • "The Book of Common Prayer,"
  • "The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments."

The first word of every distinct sentence, or of any clause separately numbered or paragraphed, should begin with a capital: as,

  • "Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things: hold fast that which is good."—1 Thess., v, 16—21.
  • "14. He has given his assent to their acts of pretended legislation: 15. For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: 16. For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for murders: 17. For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world: 18. For imposing taxes on us without our consent."—Declaration of American Independence.

All names of the deity, and sometimes their emphatic substitutes, should begin with capitals: as, God, Jehovah, the Almighty, the Supreme Being, Divine Providence, the Messiah, the Comforter, the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, the Lord of Sabaoth.

  • "The hope of my spirit turns trembling to You."—Moore.

Proper names, of every description, should always begin with capitals: as, Saul of Tarsus, Simon Peter, Judas Iscariot, England, London, the Strand, the Thames, the Pyrenees, the Vatican, the Greeks, the Argo and the Argonauts.

Titles of office or honour, and epithets of distinction, applied to persons, begin usually with capitals: as, His Majesty William the Fourth, Chief Justice Marshall, Sir Matthew Hale, Dr. Johnson, the Rev. Dr. Chalmers, Lewis the Bold, Charles the Second, James the Less, St. Bartholomew, Pliny the Younger, Noah Webster, Jun., Esq.

Those compound proper names which by analogy incline to a union of their parts without a hyphen, should be so written, and have but one capital: as, Eastport, Eastville, Westborough, Westfield, Westtown, Whitehall, Whitechurch, Whitehaven, Whiteplains, Mountmellick, Mountpleasant, Germantown, Germanflats, Blackrock, Redhook, Kinderhook, Newfoundland, Statenland, Newcastle, Northcastle, Southbridge, Fairhaven, Dekalb, Deruyter, Lafayette, Macpherson.

The compounding of a name under one capital should be avoided when the general analogy of other similar terms suggests a separation under two: as,

  • "The chief mountains of Ross-shire are Ben Chat, Benchasker, Ben Golich, Ben Nore, Ben Foskarg, and Ben Wyvis."—Glasgow Geog., Vol. ii, p. 311.

Write Ben Chasker.

When the word East, West, North, or South, as part of a name, denotes relative position, or when the word New distinguishes a place by contrast, we have generally separate words and two capitals: as, East Greenwich, West Greenwich, North Bridgewater, South Bridgewater, New Jersey, New Hampshire.

When any adjective or common noun is made a distinct part of a compound proper name, it ought to begin with a capital: as, the United States, the Argentine Republic, the Peak of Teneriffe, the Blue Ridge, the Little Pedee, Long Island, Jersey City, Lower Canada, Green Bay, Gretna Green, Land's End, the Gold Coast.

When a common and a proper name are associated merely to explain each other, it is in general sufficient, if the proper name begin with a capital, and the appellative, with a small letter: as, the prophet Elisha, Matthew the publican, the brook Cherith, the river Euphrates, the Ohio river, Warren county, Flatbush village, New York city.

The name of an object personified, when it conveys an idea strictly individual, should begin with a capital: as,

  • "On this, Fancy began again to bestir herself."—Addison.
  • "Come, gentle Spring, ethereal mildness, come."—Thomson.

Words derived from proper names, and having direct reference to particular persons, places, sects, or nations, should begin with capitals: as, Kurdish, Platonic, Newtonian, Greek, Roman, Italic, or Italian, German, or Germanic, Swedish, Turkish, Chinese, Genoese, French, Dutch, Scotch, Welsh: so, perhaps, to Platonize, to Grecize, to Romanize, to Italicize, to Latinize, or to Frenchify.

The words I and O should always be capitals: as,

  • "Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion."—Psalm cxlvii.
  • "O wretched man that I am!"
  • "For that which I do, I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I."—Rom., vii, 24 and 15.

Every line in poetry, except what is regarded as making but one verse with the line preceding, should begin with a capital: as,

  • "Our sons their fathers' failing language see, And such as Chaucer is, shall Dryden be."—Pope.

Of the exception, some editions of the Psalms in Metre are full of examples: as,

  • "Happy the man whose tender care relieves the poor distressed! When troubles compass him around, the Lord shall give him rest."—Psalms with Com. Prayer, N. Y., 1819, Ps. xli.

The first word of a full example, of a distinct speech, or of a direct quotation, should begin with a capital: as,

  • "Remember this maxim: 'Know yourself.'"
  • "Virgil says, 'Labour conquers all things.'"
  • "Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, You are gods?"—John, x, 34.
  • "You know the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour your father and your mother."—Luke, xviii, 20.

Other words of particular importance, and such as denote the principal subjects treated of, may be distinguished by capitals; and names subscribed frequently have capitals throughout: as,

  • "In its application to the Executive, with reference to the Legislative branch of the Government, the same rule of action should make the President ever anxious to avoid the exercise of any discretionary authority which can be regulated by Congress."—Andrew Jackson, 1835.

Capitals are improper wherever there is not some special rule or reason for their use: as,

  • "Many a Noble Genius is lost for want of Education. Which would then be Much More Liberal. As it was when the Church Enjoyed her Possessions. And Learning was, in the Dark Ages, Preserved almost only among the Clergy."—Charles Leslie, 1700; Divine Right of Tythes, p. 228.

Compounding edit

Compounds edit

Words regularly or analogically united, and commonly known as forming a compound, should never be needlessly broken apart. Thus, steamboat, railroad, red-hot, well-being, new-coined, are preferable to steam boat, rail road, red hot, well being, new coined.

Simples edit

When the simple words would form a regular phrase, the compounding of any of them ought to be avoided: as, in lieu of, in place of, in room of.

The sense edit

Words otherwise liable to be misunderstood, must be joined together or written separately, as the sense and construction may happen to require. Thus, a glass house is a house made of glass, but a glasshouse is a house in which glass is made.

Ellipsis edit

When two or more compounds are connected in one sentence, none of them should be split to make an ellipsis of half a word. Thus, six or seventeen should not be said for sixteen or seventeen; nor ought we to say, calf, goat, and sheepskins for calfskins, goatskins, and sheepskins. In the latter instance, however, it might be right to separate all the words: as,

  • "Soup, coffee, and tea houses."—Liberator, x, 40.

Hyphen edit

When the parts of a compound do not fully coalesce, or when each retains its original accent, as first-born, hanger-on, laughter-loving, garlic-eater, butterfly-shell, the hyphen should be inserted between them.

No hyphen edit

When a compound has but one accented syllable, as watchword, statesman, gentleman, and the parts are such as admit of a complete coalescence, no hyphen should be inserted between them: as,

  • "The practical instruction of the countinghouse imparts a more thorough knowledge of bookkeeping, than all the fictitious transactions of a mere schoolbook, however carefully constructed to suit particular purposes."—New Gram., p. vii.

Spelling edit

Final f, l, or s edit

Monosyllables ending in f, l, or s, preceded by a single vowel, double the final consonant: as, staff, mill, pass, muff, knell, gloss, off, hiss, puss.

The words clef, if, and of, are written with single f; as, gas, has, was, yes, his, is, this, us, pus, and thus, with single s; and bul, nul, sol, and sal, with single l.

Other finals edit

Words ending in any other consonant than f, l, or s, do not double the final letter: as, mob, nod, dog, sum, sun, cup, cur, cut, fix, whiz, ab, ad, jag, rag, in, bur, but.

We double the consonant in abb, ebb, add, odd, egg, jagg, ragg, inn, err, burr, purr, butt, buzz, fuzz, yarr, and some proper names.

Doubling before additional syllable edit

Monosyllables, and words accented on the last syllable, when they end with a single consonant preceded by a single vowel, or by a vowel after qu, double their final consonant before an additional syllable that begins with a vowel: as, rob, robbed, robber; fop, foppish, foppery; squat, squatter, squatting; thin, thinner, thinnest; swim, swimmer, swimming; commit, committing, committed, committer, committees; acquit, acquittal, acquittance, acquitted, acquitting.

X final, being equivalent to ks, is never doubled: thus, from mix, we have mixed, mixing, and mixer.

When the derivative retains not the accent of the root, the final consonant is not always doubled: as, prefer', pref'erence, pref'erable; refer', ref'erence, ref'erable, or refer'rible; infer', in'ference, in'ferable, or infer'rible; transfer', a trans'fer, trans'ferable, or transfer'rible.

But letters doubled in Latin, are usually doubled in English, without regard to accent, or to any other principle: as, Britain, Britan'nic, Britannia; appeal, appel'lant; argil, argil'laus, argilla'ceous; cavil, cav'illous, cavilla'tion; excel', ex'cellent, ex'cellence; inflame', inflam'mable, inflamma'tion.

No doubling before additional syllable edit

A final consonant, when it is not preceded by a single vowel, or when the accent is not on the last syllable, should remain single before an additional syllable: as, toil, toiling; oil, oily; visit, visited; differ, differing; peril, perilous; viol, violist; real, realize, realist; dial, dialing, dialist; equal, equalize, equality; vitriol, vitriolic, vitriolate.

The final l of words ending in el, must be doubled before another vowel, lest the power of the e be mistaken, and a syllable be lost: as, travel, traveller; duel, duellist; revel, revelling; gravel, gravelly; marvel, marvellous. Yet the word parallel, having three l-s already, conforms to the rule in forming its derivatives: as, paralleling, paralleled, and unparalleled.

Contrary to the preceding rule, the preterits, participles, and derivative nouns, of the few verbs ending in al, il, or ol, unaccented,—namely, equal, rival, vial, marshal, victual, cavil, pencil, carol, gambol, and pistol,—are usually allowed to double the l, though some dissent from the practice: as, equalled, equalling; rivalled, rivalling; cavilled, cavilling, caviller; carolled, carolling, caroller.

When ly follows l, we have two Ells of course, but in fact no doubling: as, real, really; oral, orally; cruel, cruelly; civil, civilly; cool, coolly; wool, woolly.

Compounds, though they often remove the principal accent from the point of duplication, always retain the double letter: as, wit'snapper, kid'napper, grass'hopper, duck'-legged, spur'galled, hot'spurred, broad'-brimmed, hare'-lipped, half-witted. So, compromitted and manumitted; but benefited is different.

Final ck edit

Monosyllables and English verbs end not with c, but take ck for double c: as, rack, wreck, rock, attack: but, in general, words derived from the learned languages need not the k, and common use discards it: as, Italic, maniac, music, public.

The words arc, orc, lac, sac, and soc, are ended with c only. Zinc is, perhaps, better spelled zink; marc, mark; disc, disk; and talc, talck.

Words ending with a double letter edit

Words ending with any double letter, preserve it double before any additional termination, not beginning with the same letter: as in the following derivatives: wooer, seeing, blissful, oddly, gruffly, equally, shelly, hilly, stiffness, illness, stillness, shrillness, fellness, smallness, drollness, freeness, grassless, passless, carelessness, recklessness, embarrassment, enfeoffment, agreement, agreeable.

Certain irregular derivatives in d or t, from verbs ending in ee, ll, or ss, as fled from flee, sold from sell, told from tell, dwelt from dwell, spelt from spell, spilt from spill, blest from bless, past from pass, are exceptions to the foregoing rule.

If the word pontiff is properly spelled with two f-s, its eight derivatives are also exceptions to this rule; for they are severally spelled with one: as, pontific, pontifical, pontificate, etc.

The words skillful, skillfully, willful, willfully, chillness, tallness, dullness, and fullness, have generally been allowed to drop the second l, though all of them might well be made to conform to the general rule, agreeably to the orthography of Webster.

Words ending with any double letter, preserve it double in all derivatives formed from them by means of prefixes: as, see, foresee; feoff, enfeoff; pass, repass; press, depress; miss, amiss; call, recall; stall, forestall; thrall, inthrall; spell, misspell; tell, foretell; sell, undersell; add, superadd; snuff, besnuff; swell, overswell.

Final ll edit

Final ll is peculiar to monosyllables and their compounds, with the few derivatives formed from such roots by prefixes; consequently, all other words that end in l, must be terminated with a single l: as, cabal, logical, appal, excel, rebel, refel, dispel, extol, control, mogul, jackal, rascal, damsel, handsel, tinsel, tendril, tranquil, gambol, consul.

Final e edit

The final e of a primitive word, when this letter is mute or obscure, is generally omitted before an additional termination beginning with a vowel: as, remove, removal; rate, ratable; force, forcible; true, truism; rave, raving; sue, suing; eye, eying; idle, idling; centre, centring.

Words ending in ce or ge, retain the e before able or ous, to preserve the soft sounds of c and g: as, trace, traceable; change, changeable; outrage, outrageous.

So, from shoe, we write shoeing, to preserve the sound of the root; from hoe, hoeing, by apparent analogy; and, from singe, singeing; from swinge, swingeing; from tinge, tingeing; that they may not be confounded with singing, swinging, and tinging.

To compounds and prefixes, as firearms, forearm, anteact, viceagent, the rule does not apply; and final ee remains double, as in disagreeable, disagreeing.

The final e of a primitive word is generally retained before an additional termination beginning with a consonant: as, pale, paleness; edge, edgeless; judge, judgeship; lodge, lodgement; change, changeful; infringe, infringement.

When the e is preceded by a vowel, it is sometimes omitted: as in duly, truly, awful, argument; but much more frequently retained: as in dueness, trueness, blueness, bluely, rueful, dueful, shoeless, eyeless.

The word wholly is also an exception to the rule, for nobody writes it wholely.

Some will have judgment, abridgment, and acknowledgment, to be irreclaimable exceptions; but on the authority of Lowth, Beattie, Ainsworth, Walker, Cobb, Chalmers and others, they retain e.

Final y preceded by a consonant edit

The final y of a primitive word, when preceded by a consonant, is generally changed into i before an additional termination: as, merry, merrier, merriest, merrily, merriment; pity, pitied, pities, pitiest, pitiless, pitiful, pitiable; contrary, contrariness, contrarily.

This rule applies to derivatives, but not to compounds: thus, we write merciful, and mercy-seat; penniless, and pennyworth; scurviness, and scurvy-grass; etc. But ladyship and goodyship, being unlike secretariship and suretiship; handicraft and handiwork, unlike handygripe and handystroke; babyship and babyhood, unlike stateliness and likelihood; the distinction between derivatives and compounds, we see, is too nice a point to have been always accurately observed.

Before ing or ish, the y is retained to prevent the doubling of i: as, pity, pitying; baby, babyish.

Words ending in ie, dropping the e, change the i into y, for the same reason: as, die, dying; vie, vying; lie, lying.

Final y preceded by a vowel edit

The final y of a primitive word, when preceded by a vowel, should not be changed into i before any additional termination: as, day, days; key, keys; guy, guys; valley, valleys; coy, coyly; cloy, cloys, cloyed; boy, boyish, boyhood; annoy, annoyer, annoyance; joy, joyless, joyful.

From lay, pay, say, and stay, are formed laid, paid, said, and staid; but the regular words, layed, payed, stayed, are sometimes used.

Raiment, contracted from arrayment, is never written with the y. Daily is more common than the regular form dayly; but gayly, gayety, and gayness, are justly superseding gaily and gaiety.

Ize and ise edit

Words ending in ize or ise, as wise and size, generally take the z in all such as are essentially formed by means of the termination; and the s in monosyllables, and in all such as are essentially formed by means of prefixes: gormandize, apologize, brutalize, canonize, pilgrimize, philosophize, cauterize, anathematize, sympathize, disorganize, with z; rise, arise, disguise, advise, devise, supervise, circumcise, despise, surmise, surprise, comprise, compromise, enterprise, presurmise, with s. In Commonwealth English spelling, words ending in ize may also be written with ise, such as organise, realise and recognise.

Advertise, catechise, chastise, criticise, exercise, exorcise, and merchandise are most commonly written with s and size, assize, capsize, analyze, overprize, detonize, and recognize, with z.

Prise, a thing taken, and prize, to esteem; apprise, to inform, and apprize, to value, or appraise, are often written either way, without this distinction of meaning, which some wish to establish. The want of the foregoing rule has also made many words variable, which ought, unquestionably, to conform to the general principle.

Compounds edit

Compounds generally retain the orthography of the simple words which compose them: as, wherein, horseman, uphill, shellfish, knee-deep, kneedgrass, kneading-trough, innkeeper, skylight, plumtree, mandrill.

In permanent compounds, or in any derivatives of which, they are not the roots, the words full and all drop one l: as, handful, careful, fulfil, always, although, withal; in temporary compounds, they retain both: as, full-eyed, chock-full, all-wise, save-all.

So the prefix mis, (if from miss, to err,) drops one s; but it is wrong to drop them both, as in Johnson's mispell and mispend, for misspell and misspend.

In the names of days, the word mass also drops one s: as, Christmas, Candlemas, Lammas.

The possessive case often drops the apostrophe: as herdsman, kitesfoot.

One letter is dropped, if three of the same kind come together: as, Rosshire, chaffinch; or else a hyphen is used: as, Ross-shire, ill-looking, still-life.

Chilblain, welcome, and welfare, drop one l.

Pastime drops an s.

Shepherd, wherever, and whosever, drop an e; and wherefore and therefore assume one.

Usage edit

Any word for the spelling of which we have no rule but usage, is written wrong if not spelled according to the usage which is most common among the learned: as,

  • "The brewer grinds his malt before he brues his beer."—Red Book, p. 38.

Figures of Orthography edit

A figure of orthography is an intentional deviation from the ordinary or true spelling of a word.

Mimesis edit

Mimesis is a ludicrous imitation of some mistake or mispronunciation of a word, in which the error is mimicked by a false spelling, or the taking of one word for another: as,

  • "Maister, says he, have you any wery good weal in you vallet?"—Columbian Orator, p. 292.
  • "Ay, he was porn at Monmouth, captain Gower."—Shak.
  • "I will description the matter to you, if you be capacity of it."—Id.
  • "Perdigious! I can hardly stand."—Lloyd: Brit. Poets, Vol. viii, p. 184.

Archaism edit

An archaism is a word or phrase expressed according to ancient usage, and not according to our modern orthography: as,

  • "Newe grene chese of smalle clammynes comfortethe a hotte stomake."—T. Paynel: Tooke's Diversions, ii, 132.
  • "He hath holpen his servant Israel."—Luke, i, 54.
  • "With him was reverend contemplation pight, bow-bent with eld, his beard of snowy hue."—Beattie.

Figures of Etymology edit

A figure of etymology is an intentional deviation from the ordinary formation of a word.

Aphaeresis edit

Aphaeresis is the elision of some of the initial letters of a word: as, 'gainst, for against; 'gan, for began; 'neath, for beneath; 'thout, for without.

Prosthesis edit

Prosthesis is the prefixing of an expletive syllable to a word: as, adown, for down; appaid, for paid; bestrown, for strown; evanished, for vanished; yclad, for clad.

Syncope edit

Syncope is the elision of some of the middle letters of a word: as, med'cine, for medicine; e'en, for even; o'er, for over; conq'ring, for conquering; se'nnight, for sevennight.

Apocope edit

Apocope is the elision of some of the final letters of a word: as, tho' for though; th', for the; t'other, for the other; thro', for through.

Paragoge edit

Paragoge is the annexing of an expletive syllable to a word: as, Johnny, for John; deary, for dear; withouten, for without.

Diaeresis edit

Diaeresis is the separating of two vowels that might be supposed to form a diphthong: as, coöperate, not cooperate; aëronaut, not aeronaut; orthoëpy, not orthoepy. This used to be common in English but is now rare.

Synaeresis edit

Synaeresis is the sinking of two syllables into one: as, seest, for seest; tacked, for tack-ed; drowned, for drown-ed; 'tis, for it is; I'll, for I will.

Tmesis edit

Tmesis is the inserting of a word between the parts of a compound, or between two words which should be united if they stood together: as,

  • "On which side soever."—Rolla.
  • "To us ward."
  • "To God ward."—Bible.
  • "The assembling of ourselves together."—Id.
  • "With what charms soever she will."—Cowper.
  • "So new a fashioned robe."—Shak.
  • "Lament the live day long."—Burns.

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