Share This Spectacular Vernacular
Ever wanna know the meanin’ of elision? No? Hang on, it’s more fun than you think.
This is one of those cases where we get the etymology out of the way first. Elision comes from the Latin elisionem which means a striking out or pressing out. Simple enough for its less common usage as the act of omitting something, such as the elision of unnecessary words in a story.
More specifically, though, it refers to the elimination of certain letters in the pronunciation of words. Here in the South, we’re rarely “going to do something,” but we’re often “gonna.” We eliminate those “unnecessary” letters in our speech.
This might sound like it refers only to informal speech, but Shakespeare himself made great use of elisions such as Romeo’s declaration, “For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.”
In between informal dialect and intentional poetry, a number of common words fit the pattern as well. For example, family is usually pronounced as two syllables with the i remaining silent, rather than the technically more proper three syllables. Such pronunciation is the “general” “preference” of the “average” person. It sounds quite stilted if you attempt to pronounce “every” syllable.
So whether poetic or informal speech, you betcha elisions are gonna happen.
Spelling versus pronunciation is always interesting. I see it in other languages also.