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Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

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Wanna know what it coulda be...

Does anybody know what’s the lingustic term for the words like “wanna”, “gonna”, “outta”, “kinda” etc? Once I heard them being termed as “clitics” but I’m not sure if this term is really used in linguistic circles. So far I’ve come across the words like: gonna, wanna, outta, gotta, hefta (for “have to”), coulda, woulda, shoulda, needa, lotsa (”lot of”), kinda (”kind of”), betcha (”I bet you...”), gotcha (”got you”), supposta (”supposed to”) and also cuppa :) Any other ideas?

  • October 3, 2005
  • Posted by marta
  • Filed in Misc
  • 13 comments

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They've been called "pronunciation spellings," but I'm not sure if linguists have another word for them.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pronunciation_spelling

mara1 Oct-03-2005

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Aren't they contractions, like "don't"?

mike7 Oct-06-2005

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well, I wouldn't say that these are contractions cos they don't use apostrophes typical of contracted words. and also 'cuppa' ,which means 'a cup', is not a contracted word but rather the opposite - an extended one by the use of '-a' suffix.

marta1 Oct-07-2005

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gon·na ( P ) Pronunciation Key (gn)
Informal
Contraction of going to: We're gonna win today.

i copied that definition from www.dictionary.com. apparently, words don't need apostrophes to officially be called contractions. still, they are informal.

cedric91709 Oct-07-2005

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"and also 'cuppa' ,which means 'a cup', is not a contracted word but rather the opposite - an extended one by the use of '-a' suffix."

Cuppa means "cup of," not "a cup."

Steve1 Oct-10-2005

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While very similar, these are not clitics. Clitics are words that can only be used in conjunction with other words.
the word 'em, as in I can see 'em now. or in French, the article l' as in l'amour. clitics are always used in combination with other words, but technically they are separate individual words.

porsche Oct-21-2005

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Disagree with porsche (a little).

All of the examples marta gave are indeed clitics, or more strictly 'enclitics'.

They are also all examples of the broader 'demotic' english (which includes the beloved 'innit', 'dunno', 'whassamatter' and friends).

In 'coulda' (= could have), the enclitic is the second element (-a = have) which is pronounced with so little emphasis that it merges with the preceding word.

The rarer 'proclitics' are evident in phrases such as 'at home'. In this case the 'at' merges with the stressed 'home' that follows it, sounding much like 'tome' in relaxed speech.

Fowlerfan Oct-26-2005

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Yes, fowlerfan, I stand corrected. In any case, I think you would agree though, coulda is not a clitic, just the -a is the clitic.

porsche Oct-26-2005

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lol clit

selfish Nov-24-2005

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It is colloquial I believe

sexton.corey Jan-31-2008

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Assimilation, I believe.

lois1 Apr-02-2008

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Wow!

Over two years since this thread got started again.

No matter.

Yes, words like "coulda" and "wanna" are contractions. Yes, they involve clitics.

Ultimately though, I'd suggest the correct linguistic term for these words is - "word."

JJMBallantyne Apr-05-2008

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WOW...I DO NOT KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT CLITIC.
I JUST REMEMBER THAT I'M THE STUDENT WHO TRY TO LOOKING FOR THE TRUTH...
OK...MAYBE SOMEBODY CAN HELP ME TO EXPLAIN ABOUT THAT. WHIT THE EXAMPLE WILL BE BETTER.

IHWANPRADIPTA Dec-17-2008

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