- For other uses of the word syncope, see syncope (disambiguation)
“to strike”) is the loss of one or more sounds from the interior of a word; especially, the loss of an unstressed vowel.
Syncope as a historical sound change
In historical phonetics, the term "syncope" is often but not always limited to the loss of an unstressed vowel:
The loss of any sound
- Old English hláford > English lord
- English Worcester, pronounced [ˈwʊstə]
- English Gloucester, pronounced [ˈɡlɒstə]
The loss of an unstressed vowel
- Latin cál[i]dum > Italian caldo "hot"
- Latin óc[u]lum > Italian occhio "eye"
- Latin trem[u]láre > Italian tremare "to tremble"
Syncope as a poetic device
Sounds may be removed from the interior of a word as a rhetoric or poetic device, whether for embellishment or for the sake of the meter.
- Latin commo[ve]rat > poetic commorat ("he had moved")
- English hast[e]ning > poetic hast'ning
- English heav[e]n > poetic heav'n
- English over > poetic o'er
Syncope in informal speech
Various sorts of colloquial reductions might be called "syncope". Forms such as "didn't" that are written with an apostrophe are, however, generally called contractions
- English [Au]stra[lia]n > colloquial Strine
- English go[ing t]o> gonna
- English wa[nt t]o > wanna
- English did n[o]t > didn't
- English do[n't k]no[w] > dunno
- English I [woul]d [h]ave > I'd've
- Crowley, Terry. (1997) An Introduction to Historical Linguistics. 3rd edition. Oxford University Press.