Schwa in hiatus dwindled in French a few centuries ago. Compare the example "saputum > sëu > su" at Wikipedia/History of French

Does anyone know WHEN this sound change occurred? I assume sometime between the 13th and 16th centuries.

1 Answer 1


According to this thesis, it occurred around the 13th century.

Deletion of schwa in hiatus with a preceding vowel, as well as the emergence of the Modern French elision rule appeared relatively early (ca. 13th century) and is explainable by natural criteria such as creation of a preferred syllable structure, maximum differentiation and preferred stress placement. With respect to schwa in hiatus with a preceding vowel, the process of effacement is characterized as a variable rule until around the sixteenth century.

Theoretical Implications of Schwa Deletion in French_Master's Thesis_Horne

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