Why and how did Italian lose the final s consonant in words,while some romance languages like spanish and portuguese retained it?(e.g. spanish "pues" and italian "poi").Is this phenomenon related to the loss of final consonants in french?

  • 3
    Spanish didn't exactly retain final s. It goes to h is some dialects.
    – Greg Lee
    Jan 31, 2019 at 20:53

1 Answer 1


Italian did not lose the final s: it turned it into a [j] (what English speakers call "the y sound"). So for example, the Latin word post lost the final t in proto-Romance, becoming **pos*, that became pues in Spanish, poi in Italian and puis in French, all quite regularly.

This is less apparent due to the subsequent reduction of diphtongs (e.g. unstressed [aj] becoming [e]), but it is still visible, if you know where to look.

Examples of this process are all across the Italian lexicon: you can see it in the plurals: canes > **canei* > cani, capras > **capraj* > capre (although this was likely influenced by the nominative plural of the second declension). You can also see it, maybe less evidently, in the second personal singular ending of verbs: sedes > **sedej* > siedi, amas > **amaj* > ame (that got later regularized into ami). However compare with das > dai: the stressed diphtong has been preserved.

To my knowledge, this has nothing to do with the loss of final consonants in French.

Source: Maiden, M. (2014). Linguistic History of Italian, A. Routledge, section 2.12

  • 3
    There is a distinction in the historical phonotactics of Italian between monosyllabic and polysyllabic words: synchronically, in monosyllables /n/, /l/, /r/ are all allowed, while in polysyllables, the last syllable can generally be only a vowel or a semivowel, with exceptions in the modern language being mainly poetic. I'm pointing this out because I think it may help seeing the diachronic fact that post > *pos > poi was possible in monosyllables, but similar diphthongs got simplified in polysyllables, in a more general context.
    – LjL
    Jan 31, 2019 at 22:50
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    Plus of course, in many New World dialects of Spanish, final /s/ has changed to /h/, or disappeared altogether.
    – jlawler
    Feb 1, 2019 at 2:56
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    @LjL There is also the fact that Italo-Romance, as a rule, admits diphthongs only in stressed positions, so there is a general tendency to either reduce unstressed diphthongs or to move the stress Feb 1, 2019 at 10:28

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