Monday, January 18, 2010



OK, so what is apocope? Is it contagious or fatal?

Apocope is leaving out the last sound, syllable, or part of a word.

When you talk about mag instead of magazine, fab when you mean fabulous, or cred for credibility, you are committing apocope. Perhaps it’s our rush-hurry-urgent age, but it seems that such energetic abbreviations are becoming more common, not merely with students who produce slangy in-terms such as psych, chem and math. It drives many folks crazy, too!

Apocope comes from the Greek word apokoptein, to cut off, made up of apo-, from or away, plus koptein, to cut. Spelling abbreviations like huntin’ or singin’ aren’t apocopic, because the missing last letter indicates that the final sound of the word has changed, not that it has been lost.

Incidentally, if you instead cut the sound off the start of a word, the right name is aphesis (an example being squire, an aphetic form of esquire); if you drop sounds in the middle (for which the classic — and extreme — example is fo’c’s’le for the crews’ quarters on board ship, in full forecastle), the process is called syncope.

But apocope is getting more wide-spread each day. We no longer have conversations but engage in convos. We do not order combination grinders for lunch but grab a combo. Even sports fans are getting beaten over the head with apocope. The Cleveland Indians play at Jacob's Field, right? Nope - they play at The "Jake". Even the University of Connecticut has been a victim. It is not Rentschler Field where they play football. It is The "Rent".


I long for the day when a sporting venue is purchased by a shiitake
mushroom conglomerate.

"Welcome fans! Today's game from the ..." Well, you know.

1 comment:

  1. You just have to pronounce all the letters, as our Canadian French neighbors do, Je ne sais pas eh?