Itacism (from the Greek letter η, 'eta') and the related term iotacism (from the Greek letter ι, 'iota') refer to the merger in pronunciation of vowel sounds that are characteristically distinguished in spelling. These two terms were coined from the Greek, since Modern Greek has merged six different combinations of sounds (ι, ει, η, οι, υ, υι) into the sound /i/ at different stages of its development which, however, are still differentiated in spelling. Examples in English include the writing of peer (to look with concentration) for pier (a platform into a body of water) or writing there for their or they’re.

In using one spelling correspondence for a phoneme or sequence of phonemes in place of the correct correspondence, itacism represents a type of substitution which may also appear as a transposition. For example, in writing the homophone pear for pare, ‹ear› has been substituted for ‹are› if the new word arises from an error in language production. If, however, the error is believed to arise from a error in processing, or reading, one can interpret the change as the transposition of ‹e› from after ‹ar› to before ‹ar›.

Cf. types of errors.

In other languages

GE: Itazismus, Iotazismus
FR: itacisme, iotacisme
IT: itacismo, iotacismo


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