Of Epenthesis

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Middle of 16th century: via Late Latin, from Ancient Greek ἐπένθεσις (epenthesis), from ἐπεντίθημι (epentithēmi, “I insert”), from ἐπί (epi) ἐντίθημι (entithēmi, “I put in”), from ἐν (en, “in”) τίθημι (tithēmi, “I put, place”).

Use of the term epenthesis implies an input-output mapping relationship in which the output contains more segmental material than the input.

The term epenthesis may also be used to refer to the addition of segmental material to satisfy a morphological template, or minimal word length requirement.

Theoretically, epenthesis may occur as the result of a phonological, morphological, or phonetic rule.

Some apparent occurrences of epenthesis, however, have a separate cause: the pronunciation of nuclear as nucular arises out of analogy with other -cular words (binocular, particular, etc.), rather than epenthesis.

In Finnish, there are two epenthetic vowels and two nativization vowels.This means that epenthesized segments may actually fail to surface—if a later rule deletes that segment.The pattern may also be rendered opaque if the original triggering environment is altered by the action of subsequent rules (counter-bleeding); or if the relevant environment surfaces only later, failing to trigger epenthesis (counter-feeding).Other terms that are often used synonymously with epenthesis include “insertion,” “intrusion,” and “linking,” although the latter two may also be used to refer only to certain specific kinds of epenthesis.Epenthesis may occur in a variety of environments: intervocalically, interconsonantally, word or syllable initially, and word or syllable finally.In standard Finnish, these are slightly intensified when preceding a consonant in a medial cluster, e.g. Some dialects, like Savo and Ostrobothnian, employ epenthesis instead, using the preceding vowel in clusters of type -l C- and -h C-, and in Savo, -nh-. (An exception is that in Pohjanmaa, -lj- and -rj- become -li- and -ri-, respectively, e.g. For example, Pohjanmaa "Ostrobothnia" → Pohojammaa, ryhmä → ryhymä, and Savo vanha → vanaha. A similar example is the English indefinite article a, which becomes an before a vowel.In Old English, this was ane in all positions, so a diachronic analysis would see the original n disappearing except where a following vowel required its retention: an A limited number of words in Japanese use epenthetic consonants to separate vowels, example of this is the word harusame (春雨, spring rain) which is a compound of haru and ame in which an /s/ is added to separate the final /u/ of haru and the initial /a/ of ame.Within this framework epenthesis can occur in any environment and involve any segment.Furthermore, a rule of epenthesis may be ordered with respect to other rules in any sequence whatsoever.


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