Relaxed pronunciation (also called condensed pronunciation or word slurs) is a phenomenon that happens when the syllables of common words are slurred together. It is almost always present in normal speech, in all natural languages but not in some constructed languages, such as Loglan or Lojban, which are designed so that all words are parsable.
Some shortened forms of words and phrases, such as contractions or weak forms can be considered to derive from relaxed pronunciations, but a phrase with a relaxed pronunciation is not the same as a contraction. In English, where contractions are common, they are considered part of the standard language and accordingly used in many contexts (except on very formal speech or in formal/legal writing); however, relaxed pronunciation is markedly informal in register. This is also sometimes reflected in writing: contractions have a standard written form, but relaxed pronunciations may not, outside of dialect spelling.
Certain relaxed pronunciations occur only in specific grammatical contexts, the exact understanding of which can be complicated. See trace (linguistics) for some further info.
The following sections contain common words said with relaxed pronunciation in American English, along with pronunciations given in IPA, and a common written indication of this pronunciation where applicable:
Of, have, and to
The words of, to, and have all tend to elide to nothing more than a schwa in many common situations. This sometimes leads to spelling confusion, such as writing "I could of..." instead of "I could have..." or "I could've".
- could have: , coulda
- must have: , musta
- should have: , shoulda
- would have: , woulda
- it would / it would have: , itta
- a lot of: , a lotta
- kind of: , kinda
- out of: , outta
- sort of: , sorta
- going to: , gonna
- got to: , gotta
- have to: , hafta
- want to: , wanna
- ought to : oughta
"You" tends to elide to (often written "ya"); softening of the preceding consonant also may occur: ( + = , and + = ). In some dialects, such as Australian English, this is not a relaxed pronunciation but compulsory: got you (never *).
- did you: , didja
- did you / do you: , d'ya
- don't you: , doncha
- got you: , gotcha
- get you / get your: , getcha
- would you: , wouldja
- -ing forms of verbs and sometimes gerunds tend to be pronounced with an at the end instead of the expected or . E.g. talking: , tahkin. If followed by a , this can in turn blend with it to form . E.g. talking to Bob: , tahkinna Bob
- "I will" gets contracted to "I'll" , which in turn gets reduced to "all" in relaxed pronunciation. E.g. I'll do it: , all do it
- "he" tends to elide to just after consonants, sometimes after vowel sounds as well. E.g. is he: , izee; all he: , ahlee
- "his", "him", and "her" tend to elide in most environments to , , and , respectively. E.g. meet his: , meetiz; tell him: , tellim; show her , show-er
- "them" tends to elide to after consonants. E.g. ask them: , ask'em. (Historically, this is a remnant of the Old English pronoun hem.)
- about: , bout
- already: , ahready
- all right: , ahright
- come here: , cuhmeer
- come on: , c'mon
- don't know: , if not preceded by a vowel sound, dunno
- fixing to: "finna"
- give me: , gimme
- I'm going to: , "Imma" or , "Ah-muhnuh"
- is it: , zit
- isn't it: , innit
- let me: , lemme
- let's: , E.g. let's go:
- probably: , , prolly, probly
- suppose: s'pose. E.g. I suppose so:
- trying to: "trynna"
- want a: , wanna
- what is that: , wussat
- what is up: , wassup
- what is up: , sup
- what are you: , whatcha
- what have you: , whatcha. E.g. What have you been up to? :
- what do you/what are you: , whaddaya
- you all: , y all
kweenie = Ik weet het niet ("I don't know")
lama = Laat maar (zitten) ("Let it be")
Examples of the Dutch as spoken in the Netherlands include:
der = de hare ("hers")
ie = hij ("he"), often used in phrases such as dattie for dat hij ("that he")
amme = aan mijn ("on / to my"), for example in ammezolen for aan mijn zolen ("not on your life")
Often, especially in Belgian Dutch, the -t at the end of the word is omitted.
nie = niet
da = dat For example, kweet da nie = Ik weet dat niet ("I don't know that")
wasda = wat is dat ("What is that")
The most notable example in Russian language is the greeting (), which is colloquially pronounced . Other examples include:
- or ('now')
- ('what'; originally a contraction of Genitive , but can be used instead of Nominative too)
Contracted forms are usually found only in colloquial contexts, but they can occur in poetry.
For example, look at the verse from the Russian translation of Avesta (Mihr Yasht, verse 129):
"On a side of the chariot of Mithra, the lord of wide pastures, stand a thousand ... arrows, with a golden mouth." This contrasts with contracted forms found in colloquial speech in that it is used to keep the original rhythm. The previous verse (verse 128) has a literary form:
"On a side of the chariot of Mithra, the lord of wide pastures, stand a thousand bows well-made, with a string of cowgut").
Among other relaxed pronunciations, tu as (you have) is frequently elided to t'as in colloquial French or tu es (you are) to t'es. The same with je suis (I am) to j'suis or ch'uis (very informal, or regional), and je (ne) sais pas (I don't know) to j'sais pas or ch'ais pas (very informal, or regional). Moreover, most of the negative forms ne or n are lost in non-formal discussion. The expression, "Qu'est-ce que..." is little used in colloquial speech for forming the interrogative, but when it is, in very informal use, it is shortened: "Qu'est-ce que tu veux ?" becomes... "Qu'est-c'tu veux ?" "Qu'est-ce que tu as dit?" becomes... "Qu'est-c't'as dit?"
The most notable example is Chilean Spanish.
Forms of the verb estar ("to be") are often shortened by dropping the first syllable (as if the verb were *tar).
Ac est . Ac ta. ("Here it is", joking tone or baby-talk)
The preposition para ("for", "in order to") can be shortened to pa' (this sounds uneducated in most dialects):
Pa' servirle. (lit. "To serve you", i. e. "At your service".)
No es pa' cualquiera. ("It is not for anyone.")
The d in the final -ado of past participles is usually pronounced softly, and, in relaxed pronunciation, can disappear: Estoy cansado ("I am tired") is heard as Toy cansao. Doing so with the final -ido, as in *Toy perd o ("I am lost"), is perceived as more uneducated. This can lead to hypercorrections like *bacalado instead of bacalao ("cod").
The preposition de ("of") also tends to get shortened to e when the previous word ends in a vowel.
In many dialects, the very common phrase voy a + infinitive ("I'm going to..."), which shows the immediate future tense, is shortened: some people pronounce vua /bwa/, others via /bja/. This is quite common but also considered uneducated.
Some dialects like Andalusian Spanish lose the syllable-final s. Since it is important as a mark of plurals, it is substituted with vowel opening.
- para + el = pal
- para + la = pala
- para + los = palos
- para + las = palas
- para + donde = paonde, pande
- para + all = pay
- para + ac = pac
Or the common pa'que from para que.
t = est ([it/she/he] is)
- vambora = vamos embora (let's go)
- bora = vamos embora (let's go)
pra, pa = para (to)
c = voc (you)
home = homem (man)
v = vou (I will)
portuga, tuga = portugu s (both for the Portuguese people and language)
para + o = pro -further contraction-> po
para + a = pra -> pa
para + os = pros -> pos
para + as = pras -> pas
In some dialects, que (that) is reduced to the "q" sound:
que + a = q'a
que + o = q'o
que + ela = q'ela (that she)
que + ele = q'ele (that he)
que + = q' (that is)
que + foi = q'foi (that was), etc...
Japanese can undergo some vowel deletion or consonant mutation in relaxed speech. While these are common occurrences in the formation of some regular words, typically after the syllables ku or tsu, as in gakk ( gaku + k ) "school" or shuppatsu ( shutsu + hatsu) "departure", in rapid speech, these changes can appear in words that did not have them before, such as suizokkan for suizokukan "aquarium." Additionally, the syllables ra, ri, ru, re and ro sometimes become simply n or when they occur before another syllable beginning with n or d, and disappear entirely before syllabic n. This can happen within a word or between words, such as wakannai "I dunno" for wakaranai "I don't know" or m kite n da yo "they're already here" for m kite iru n da yo.
Relaxed pronunciation also makes use of several contractions.
Ne haber? (What's up?) N'aber?
Ne oluyor? (What's going on?) N'oluyor?
Ne yap yorsun? (What are you doing?) N'ap yorsun?
- This can further be reduced N'ap yon
In all of these cases, the pronounced length of the initial vowel is slightly extended, though in the case of "nap yon" the terminal vowel maintains its initial length or, if anything, is shortened.
In Urdu, it is common to elide the sound /h/ in normal speech. For example, p kah j rahay hai will be pronounced p k n ja rai ai .
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