1

I came across a word which was encumber.

Like this verb there are many words whose noun forms don't include e in that place (before r in that word). Is there any reason behind it or is it just an accepted usage?

For example:

  • encumber -> encumbrance
  • hinder -> hindrance
  • 2
    It would be useful if you provided more examples, the noun form you are referring to (I presume 'encumbrance'), and what attempts you have made to work out the answer for yourself. – fred2 Mar 19 at 18:15
  • @fred2 -- "encumber" becomes "encumbrance", "hinder" becomes "hindrance", et cetera. – Jasper Mar 19 at 18:58
  • 1
    This question might get better answers on the English Language and Usage Stack Exchange. – Jasper Mar 19 at 19:00
3

It's a property of the (spoken) language, not just of writing, and it's called syncope. It is a very common process across languages: a weak vowel before the final consonant of a word often disappears before an ending or suffix.

Examples:

Latin magister 'master', plural magistri

Russian у́гол (ugol) 'corner', plural углы́ (ugly)

Georgian მეგობარი (megobari) 'friend', plural მეგობრები (megobrebi) [the -i is the nominative suffix in either case: when the plural suffix -eb is added, the -a- disappears.]

It is usually not universal: in a given language, usually some words show it and others don't.

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