Mar 15, 2010


Summary: Do you ever drop your Gs in such words as using or thinking? If so, you aren't just speaking slang, you're eliding!

Elide (ee - LYED) - (v.) to delete or omit; to leave out as a vowel, a syllable or a piece of information in computer code.

While lying in bed reading the other night (a guilty pleasure I'm supposed to avoid since it begets my natural insomnia), I came across a word that was totally new to me: elide. This word, it turns out, can be used to reference a variety of omissions—from computer coding to words, syllables and even letters. It means to drop, or delete, and comes from the Latin word elidere, meaning to strike out.

Interestingly enough, that word comes from the combination of two other Latin words: e and laedere, which mean to injure by striking.

Stop and think about that from a grammatical standpoint for a second. If I'm the kind of person who often drops the G in such words as thinking, reading and writing (pronouncing them as thinkin' and readin' and writin'), in a sense, I'm harming the words I say. And if I regularly drop words or even whole syllables—gov'ment for government, for instance—some would say I'm butchering the English language; injuring it beyond recognition.

The fact is, most Americans perform some type of elision in everyday language. I actually am the sort of person who sometimes drops her Gs in -ing suffixes. Worse, I use a Hoosier colloquialism from time to time that I grew up using (one my husband finds comically ironic for a communications coach): I'll say, "These blankets all need washed," when what I mean is either, "These blankets all need to be washed," or "These blankets all need washing."

See if you can notice any elisions in use around you this week. And post them here!

© KiKi Productions, Inc. 2010

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