Tuesday, July 14, 2015

diaeresis - cooperation hiatus

Diaeresis (from the Greek "to divide") refers to two vowel sounds occurring in adjacent syllables. An example would be "cooperation" or "hiatus". Contrast this with diphthong which is a sound made with two vowel sounds in the same syllable.

Some languages have few or no diphthongs, but a lot of vowels, so they end up with lots of diaeresis. For example, the Hawaiian word "aea" has 3 syllables.

Many languages disallow this sort of thing and simply deleting the extra vowel or adding an extra consonant. Some English dialects insert an /r/ into the word. This is called the intrusive R and seems to be something that can get you elected president (see Kennedy and any president from the south).

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