It’s back in business with elision, folks…
I think it was John Wells who first came up with the term pseudo-elision, though I can’t quote chapter and verse. It’s a useful term, I think, but it seems to me that there are several variations and each could do with its own name.
The term refers to the situation where the target sound actually disappears, but leaves some trace of its former presence behind. An often quoted example from English is [ju:nɪvɜ:s:ti] for university. The vowel of the fourth syllable has been elided, but the preceding fricative has been lengthened to compensate for its absence. This means that the end of the word is distinct from, for example, thirsty, which never had a vowel following the fricative in the first place. This kind of pseudo-elision we could call compensatory-lengthening pseudo-elision.
Another variety involves the loss of a sound but the retention of the co-articuatory effects of that sound on a neighbour. A good example is the word can’t pronounced as [kɑ:ʔ] (with a nasalised vowel – I can’t get that to display properly). Although the [n] has disappeared, the nasalisation of the preceding vowel remains, making the word distinct from cart = [kɑ:ʔ]. The [ʔ] could also be [t] in both words, of course. How about co-articulatory pseudo-elision for this one?
There is at least one other kind I can think of for English. An example of what I am thinking of is what can happen to words like support and suppose when they lose the [ə] of the first syllable. [spʰɔ:t] and [spʰəʊz] are possible pronunciations of the words. However, these appear to contravene the normal distributional characteristics for strongly aspirated voiceless plosives in English, which do not normally occur in initial s+C clusters. I spose (ho, ho) we could call this anomalous distribution pseudo-elision..
I notice that pseudo-elision does not appear in SID. I must do something about that. There. That’s my first New Year’s resolution.