We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Epenthesis?

By A. Leverkuhn
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Epenthesis is the addition of a vowel or consonant sound to a word. This is applied differently to different languages, and works in various ways according to the needs of a set of speakers. The word comes from the Greek, where it could be translated into English as, "put into."

In many cases, epenthesis happens because speakers find it hard to pronounce vowel or consonant clusters, or sets of combined vowels and consonants, that are next to each other in words. Experts sometimes describe these ways of speaking as "child-like," where a given dialect inserts the sounds to make speech easier. The use of epenthesis in dialect is a major part of understanding how this phenomenon happens; speakers frequently add sounds into words in ways that are not technically correct, but become common usage over time, at least in specific language communities. The use of these extra sounds can also enhance a poetic meter.

One common example of epenthesis in English helps to describe how this process works. English speakers may use a "stopping" consonant as a kind of accent, in ways that are entirely superfluous. For example, inserting a "p" sound into a word like "hamster" or even a word like "teamster" gives the word a slightly different sound, but does not change its meaning or add substance.

In other cases, individuals insert vowel sounds to break up consonant clusters. One common tool in multiple languages is the use of what linguistic experts describe as a schwah. The schwah is a sort of ambiguous sound that resembles a diminished form of several vowel sounds in English, such as the "e" in roses, or the "u" in cup. It is often inserted into a particular place in a sentence, producing a distinctly different sound that may lead to its adoption as common usage.

Language experts formally refer to added consonant sounds as excrescence. Added vowel sounds are commonly called anaptyxis. Linguists and others observe the uses of these conventions at the beginnings, in the middles, and at the ends of words to understand how and why they are applied. Epenthesis is a good example of the ways that language is dynamic and continually changing. It also illustrates how dialect or informal language may differ from standard technically correct versions of that language, for example, how a broadcaster or communications professional may speak differently than a speaker of a particular regional or ethnic dialect.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.