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Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Middle of 16th century: via Late Latin, from Ancient Greek ἐπένθεσις (epenthesis), from ἐπεντίθημι (epentithēmi, “I insert”), from ἐπί (epi) ἐντίθημι (entithēmi, “I put in”), from ἐν (en, “in”) τίθημι (tithēmi, “I put, place”)., Ancient Greek ἐπένθεσις - epenthesis, from epi "on" en "in" thesis "putting") is the addition of one or more sounds to a word, especially to the interior of a word. Here there is no epenthesis from a historical perspective, since the a-t is derived from Latin habet (he has), and the t is therefore the original third person verb inflection.Epenthesis often breaks up a consonant cluster or vowel sequence that is not permitted by the phonotactics of a language.
It is also possible that OJ /ame/, and the /s/ is not epenthetic but simply retained archaic pronunciation. One hypothesis argues that Japanese /r/ developed "as a default, epenthetic consonant in the intervocalic position".
An example in an English song is "The Umbrella Man", where the meter requires "umbrella" to be pronounced with four syllables, um-buh-rel-la, so that "any umbrellas" has the meter ány úmberéllas.
Within generative theory, epenthesis is “triggered” or “conditioned” by the presence of specific environments.
Such environments may consist of sequences that are disallowed or dispreferred within the language (*XY), and that are prevented from surfacing by the operation of epenthesis (/XY/ surfaces as [XBY]).
However, in a theoretical framework lacking derivations, such as optimality theory, it is possible to refer only to surface-true epenthesis.
In what follows only apparent cases of surface-true epenthesis will be discussed; this is partially for practical reasons—the burden of proof is higher for cases of “covert” epenthesis—and partially because optimality theory provides a more restrictive prediction about the contexts in which epenthesis can occur, and which segments can epenthesize.Epenthesis may be divided into two types: excrescence (if the sound added is a consonant) and anaptyxis (if the sound added is a vowel). However it is correct to call this epenthesis when viewed synchronically, since the modern basic form of the verb is a, and the psycholinguistic process is therefore the addition of t to the base form.A similar example is the English indefinite article a, which becomes an before a vowel.Other terms that are often used synonymously with epenthesis include “insertion,” “intrusion,” and “linking,” although the latter two may also be used to refer only to certain specific kinds of epenthesis.Epenthesis may occur in a variety of environments: intervocalically, interconsonantally, word or syllable initially, and word or syllable finally.For example, Pohjanmaa "Ostrobothnia" → Pohojammaa, ryhmä → ryhymä, and Savo vanha → vanaha. Use of the term epenthesis implies an input-output mapping relationship in which the output contains more segmental material than the input.The term epenthesis may also be used to refer to the addition of segmental material to satisfy a morphological template, or minimal word length requirement.Theoretically, epenthesis may occur as the result of a phonological, morphological, or phonetic rule.For example, the cartoon character Yogi Bear says "pic-a-nic basket" for "picnic basket." Another example is to be found in the chants of England football fans in which England is usually rendered as , or the pronunciation of "athlete" as "ath-e-lete".Some apparent occurrences of epenthesis, however, have a separate cause: the pronunciation of nuclear as nucular arises out of analogy with other -cular words (binocular, particular, etc.), rather than epenthesis.