Apr 24, 2008



The word-police will quickly pounce
On words we mortals mispronounce;
But those who love "haplology",
Offer no apology!

—Karen June Miller

Merriam-Webster had this to say...

haplology \hap-LAH-luh-jee\ noun : contraction of a word by omission of one or more similar sounds or syllables

Example sentence: Johnny's teacher, determined to stomp out any instances of haplology in her classroom, corrected him every time he pronounced "probably" as “problee.”

Did you know? Try to say "pierced-ear earrings" three times fast. That exercise will demonstrate why haplology happens: sometimes it's just easier to drop a syllable and leave yourself with something that's easier to say (such as "pierced earrings"). American philologist Maurice Bloomfield recognized the tendency to drop one of a pair of similar syllables a little over a hundred years ago. He has been credited with joining the combining form "hapl-" or "haplo-" (meaning "single") with "-logy" (meaning "oral or written expression") to create "haplology" as a name for the phenomenon. Haplology is quite common in English, and often the contracted forms it generates spread into the written language. In fact, haplology played a role in naming the nation that is the cradle of English: "England" was condensed via haplology from "Engla land."

© 2007 by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated
My own thoughts...

Clearly, every language has created new words by squashing syllables together or routinely omitting a sound that doesn't dance on the tongue. The Spanish language, for instance, has a wonderful practice of melding words together. An example would be the phrases "mi hija" and "mi hijo" (my daughter, my son), which are replaced with "mija" and "mijo." Even the city of Santa Ana, California is invariably called "Santana."

However, haplology is never more delightful than when young children recreate language. When a child says "beauful" instead of beautiful, or a little more off track, "Weeno-diddo" instead of Wienerschnitzel* (like my 8-year old son, Brock, used to say), I'm not eager to correct it out of existence. Childhood is fleeting enough.

Wienerschnitzel, the name of the popular food chain, means "Viennese cutlet" which is a traditional Austrian dish


NeereAnDear said...

OK since you say we can be mindless and I have a migraine... it didnt make sense to me .. but thats because right now I cant think straight... so I will come back and check this out again when I can..



KJ said...


I understand, believe me. I find it amusing that "LOL" is in the middle of the word haplology! I tweeked the post to hopefully make it easier to "get".

I hope that your headache has gone away!


Beverly said...

This is so interesting, so true, and in turn, so funny.

I have found that people in the area I live have quite distinctively tweeked language. I always tease my cousins about it. One of them lives in a town called Henderson, and many of the people pronounce it as Huneson.

I think all of these quirky things we do with our language make us even more interesting.

PAT said...

Very interesting KJ.

Gabi and Drew's dad call them Mija and Mijo. Our pediatrician called our daughters Weinerschnitzel!

You are right, childhood is so fleeting! My oldest daughter called Groundhogs, Grasseaters. We still use that word to describe Groundhogs. As in, Oh look there's a Grasseater!

Have a wonderful weekend!

NeereAnDear said...

I got it!!! headaches can make you mindless cant they?

It makes sense now and it did last night just not for me because of the headache... but we do have a tendency to use our own hap"LOL"ogy when we want to cut corners hehe


Penny @ Lavender Hill Studio said...

I loved this post! And I love Haplology. Though before today, I didn't realize that it had a name!


Andi said...

Love your post Karen! Childhood is we should hang onto those wonderful moments and re-created words that bring smiles to our faces.

Julie said...

What is the term when kids use the words "hangiber" or "hamaker" for hamburger. Or "scabetti" or "busghetti" for spaghetti? Obviously, there is something going on, because most kids make the same mistakes!!

Or how about adults, like my aunt, who said "alunium"??