Contractions

Many languages include contractions; perhaps most do. English seems to have its fair share, but I think it could use more.

Some contractions are marked with apostrophes, as in English “didn’t” and German “wie geht’s”. In some languages, the words are simply abbreviated and catenated without apostrophes, such as German “am” for “an dem” or Spanish “del” for “de el”. The words “doff” and “don” in English appear to be ancient contractions for “do off” and “do on” (or some equivalent). Spanish sometimes even expands its contractions, as in “conmigo” for “con mi”!

In English, there are regional variations in how contractions are pronounced. Using “didn’t” as an example, some say “dident”, some say “di’ent” (with a glottal stop), others say “di’nt” (with a nasal stop), and still others say “dint” (and “shount” and “wount”). A “nasal stop” in this case has the tongue in the “d” position, which remains in place while the back of the nose is closed and reopened, voiced.

In the South, I have heard “isn’t it” pronounced as “i’n it”, where the apostrophe represents a nasal stop. The “s” has disappeared.

There are further contractions in spoken English that contract even more. One is “ain’t” for “am not”, but very often used otherwise, as in “it ain’t …”.¬†Another example is “gonna” for “going to”, in the sense of “will”. Strangely, “I am going to the store” usually is rendered “I’m gonna go to the store”, the redundancy of which is hidden by the contraction.

This brings me to my proposal for a new contraction, one that many English speakers already use: “I’m’ona” for “I am going to”, as in “I’m’ona go to the store”.

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