Juncture loss

Juncture loss

Juncture loss (also known as junctural metanalysis, false splitting, misdivision, refactorization, or rebracketing) is the linguistic process by which two words (often an article and a noun) become partially or wholly affixed. Some examples would be if "a noodle" became "an oodle", if "an eagle" became "a neagle", if "the jar" became "(the) thejar", or if "an apple" became "(an) anapple".

A form of back-formation akin to folk etymology, juncture loss may occur because the new form makes sense (i.e., "hamburger" taken to mean a "burger" with "ham") or through highly probable word boundaries ("an oodle" sounds just as grammatically correct as "a noodle", but "the bowl" could not become "th ebowl" and "a kite" could not become "ak ite").

There are two forms of juncture loss. The first is often called false splitting (though all forms of juncture loss can be called this), where two words mix together but still remain two words (as in the noodle and eagle examples above). The term false splitting occasionally is also used to describe the process of splitting a word in a new place, such as helico•pter (from Greek "heliko-" and "pterōn") to modern heli•copter (as in jetcopter, heliport), hamburg•er (after the German city of Hamburg) to modern ham•burger (as in cheeseburger, etc.), and cybern•etics (from Greek "kubernan" and "-ētēs") to modern cyber•netics (as in cyberspace). These are all forms of folk etymology and back-formation.

The second, less frequently referred to form of juncture loss is merely referred to as juncture loss, and almost exclusively deals with articles and nouns (as in the jar and apple examples above).

Examples of false splitting

In English

As demonstrated in the examples above, the primary reason of juncture loss in English is the confusion between "a" and "an". In Medieval script, words were often written so close together that for some Middle English scholars it was hard to tell where one began and another ended. The results include the following words in English:
* adder: Middle English "a naddre" ("a snake") taken for "an addre".
* aitchbone: Middle English "a nachebon" ("a buttock bone") taken for "an hach boon".
* apple pie order: English "a nappes-pliées" (meaning "neatly folden linen" in French) taken for "an apple pie" (this is also an example of transposition).
* apron: Middle English "a napron" taken for "an apron".
* auger: Middle English "a nauger" taken for "an auger".
* eyas: Middle English "a niyas" taken for "an eias".
* humble pie: Middle English "a numble" taken for "an umble" (ultimately from Latin "lumbulus", this is also an example of homorganicness).
* lone: Middle English "al one" (all one) taken for "a-lone".
* newt: Middle English "an eute" (cognate with "eft") taken for "a neute".
* nickname: Middle English "an eke name" ("an additional name") taken for "a neke name".
* : Middle English, for old English "þen ānes" ("the one [occasion] ").
* omelette: 17C English from French "la lemelle" ("omelette") taken for "l'alemelle"; ultimately from Latin "lamella" ("blade"), perhaps because of the thin shape of the omelette (SOED).
* ought: Middle English "a nought" ("a nothing") taken for "an ought". Ultimately distinct from Old English "naught" ("nothing"), of complex and convergent etymology, from "na" ("not") and "wight" ("living thing, man"), but cf. "aught" ("anything", "worthy", etc.), itself ultimately from "aye" ("ever") and "wight" (SOED).
* "tother": Old English (now dialectal) "t [he] other", taken for "t-other".
* umpire: Middle English "a noumpere" taken for "an oumpere".
* prosthodontics (= false teeth): from "prosth(o)"- + Greek "odont"-; "odont"- = "tooth", and "prostho"- arose by misdivision of "prosthetic", which was treated as supposed stem "prosth-" and suffix "-etic", but actually came from Greek "pros" = "in front of" and "thē-" (the root of the verb "tithēmi" = "I place").

In French

In French similar confusion arose between "le/la" and "l'-" as well as "de" and "d'-".

* French "démonomancie" ("demonomancy") taken for "d'émonomancie" ("of emonomancy").Fact|date=January 2008

* Old French "lonce" ("lynx") taken for "l'once" ("the snow leopard").

* Old French "une norenge" ("an orange") taken for "une orenge".

In Arabic

In Arabic the confusion is generally with Western words beginning in "al-" ("al" is Arabic for "the").

* Greek "Alexandreia" (Alexandria) taken for "al Exandreia" (and thus "Al-Iskandariyah"; this is also an example of metathesis).
* Greek "Alexandretta" taken for "al Exandretta" (and thus "Iskenderun"; this too is an example of metathesis).

Examples of juncture loss

* "alligator" from Spanish "el lagarto" ("the lizard").
* "another" from "an other".
* "atone" from "at one".
* "alone" from "all one".
* "lithotrity" from Greek "lithōn thrutika" ("stone-crushing").

From Arabic "al"

Perhaps the largest form of this sense of juncture loss in English comes from the Arabic "al" (mentioned above):


* Arabic "al-faṣfaṣa" in Spanish as "alfalfa", alfalfa.
* Arabic "al-kharrūba" in Spanish as "algorroba", carob.
* Arabic "al-hilāl" in Spanish as "alfiler", pin.
* Arabic "al-hurj" in Spanish as "alforja", saddlebag.
* Arabic "al-qāḍī" in Spanish as "alcalde", alcalde.
* Arabic "al-qā’id" in Spanish as "alcaide", commander.
* Arabic "al-qaṣr" in Spanish as "alcázar", alcazar.
* Arabic "al-qubba" in Spanish as "alcoba", alcove.
* Arabic "al-‘uṣāra" in Spanish as "alizari", madder root.
* Arabic "al-rub" in Spanish as "arroba", a unit of measure.
* Arabic "al-zahr" ("the dice") in Spanish as "azar", "randomness", and in English as "hazard"


* Arabic "al-bakūra" in Portuguese as "albacor", albacore.
* Arabic "al-ġaṭṭās" in Portuguese as "alcatraz", albatross.

Medieval Latin

* Arabic "al-’anbīq" in Medieval Latin as "alembicus", alembic.
* Arabic "al-dabarān" in Medieval Latin as "Aldebaran", Aldebaran.
* Arabic "al-ḥinnā’" in Medieval Latin as "alchanna", henna.
* Arabic "al-‘iḍāda" in Medieval Latin as "alidada", sighting rod.
* Arabic "al-jabr" in Medieval Latin as "algebra", algebra.
* Arabic "al-Khwarizmi" in Medieval Latin as "algorismus", algorism.
* Arabic "al-kīmiyā’" in Medieval Latin as "alchymia", alchemy.
* Arabic "al-kuḥl" in Medieval Latin as "alcohol", powdered antimony.
* Arabic "al-qily" in Medieval Latin as "alkali", alkali.
* Arabic "al-qur’ān" in Medieval Latin as "alcorānum", Koran.


* Arabic "al-ġūl" in English as "Algol".
* Arabic "al-majisti" in French as "almageste", almagest.
* Arabic "al-minbar" in Medieval Hebrew as "’almēmār", bema.


* DeVinne, Pamela B. "The Tormont Webster's Illustrated Encyclopedic Dictionary". Boston: Tormont Publications, Inc., 1982.
* Hendrickson, Robert. "QPB Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins". New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1998.
* McWhorter, John. "The Power of Babel: A natural history of language". Harper Perennial, 2003.
*Morris, William. "The American Heritage dictionary of the English language.—new college ed." Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1976.
* Pickett, Joseph P. "The American Heritage dictionary of the English language.—4th ed." New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2000.
* Vizetelly, Frank H. "Funk & Wagnalls Practical Standard Dictionary of the English Language: Designed to Give the Orthography, Pronunciation, Meaning, and Etymology of Over 140,000 Words and Phrases in the Speech and Literature of the English-Speaking Peoples, with Synonyms, Antonyms, and Prepositions." New York: Funk & Wagnalls Co., 1931.
* Webster, Noah. "American Dictionary of the English Language". New Haven: S. Converse, 1828.

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