The term apocope comes from the Latin word apocŏpe,
although its most distant etymological roots are found in the Greek
language. The concept is used in phonetics with reference to the elimination
of certain sounds at the end of a word.
It is important to note that, according to the dictionary of the Royal
Spanish Academy (RAE), apocope is a feminine noun:
therefore it should be said “the apocope” or “an apocope”. The
apocope, on the other hand, is part of the figure known as metaplasm,
which implies an alteration of the pronunciation or the writing of the terms
without changing their meaning.
In the specific case of this metaplasm, there is a cut at the end of the
word. If the change takes place at the beginning, it is an apheresis,
while if the modification appears in the middle, the metaplasm is called a syncopation.
We can find apocopes in different types of words. The word "auto," for
example, is an apocope of "automobile. " The two terms refer
to the same thing: a motor vehicle intended for the transport
of passengers that can move without the use of rails or tracks.
apocopes also appear among adjectives ("first" instead
of "first"), adverbs ("so" for "so
much") and even proper nouns ("Juli" as a
replacement for "Julian"). The choice of the apocope or the entire
word may be a matter of style or context. In some cases, the phenomenon results
in the use of words that are not part of the RAE dictionary.
Apocope of the unstressed -e
The Castilian has undergone numerous changes throughout its development and
evolution, a process that has been in motion for many centuries and has not yet
finished. One of the most striking phenomena in its history is the apoptosis of
the final tone, and a phonetic alteration that began to be noticed in our
language from the 6th century and identified it with others, also from Western
It is worth mentioning that in the case of Castilian, this omission was only
carried out in an extreme way for an approximate period of two centuries, from
the middle of the 11th century, unlike what happened with Catalan and French,
where it persisted.
For words ending in le, re, se, ne, de or ze, the final
apotonic of -e atone began to take place from the 6th century. This can be seen,
for example, in the term Leon, which until then was written Leon. Given
the instability and irregularity of this movement, the apócope not used
to form final since then, so we find both versions of the word documents and
articles of subsequent centuries.
Until the first half of the 11th century, there was a marked tendency to keep
the final vowel in these words, and it is believed that the application of the
apocope could have a pejorative connotation. However, from about 1050 to about
1250, permanent elimination of final -e was put into practice, even in terms
that did not end in the aforementioned syllables. In this way, alterations such
as the following were obtained: the words mount, nine, forward and part,
became mont, new, forward and part, respectively.
This was followed by the restitution of the final unstressed vowel -e,
already in the second half of the 13th century, although not for long: five
decades later, the apocope became extreme once again. Over time, the language
began to take a less rigid form, applying this measure only in certain cases,
many of which have reached our era.