I am trying to find a proper name for forms, that do not exist by themselves, but kinda happen when this word is combined with another to form a compound word, example in Estonian:

ratsionaliseerimine ("rationalizing, rationalization") => Gen. "ratsionaliseerimise" (Genitive is used in compound words for non-basal components of compound)

ettepanek ("suggestion")

but compound word is "ratsionaliseerimis/ettepanek". As you can see, the word final "e" of "ratsionaliseerimise" has been lost due to de-deduplication

How one would call such a form ("ratsionaliseerimis") ?


  • 1
    Sometimes "combining form"
    – Colin Fine
    May 17 at 21:34
  • If indeed combining or compound(ing) forms are what you’re looking for, a more obvious example is the Graeco-Latin vowel ‘suffix’ -o-, which can be used (even productively in English now) to make compounding forms of nouns. For example, most (all?) words with the suffix -logy ‘study (of)’ effectively ends in -ology because of this -o-, and it’s used in various other contexts as well – Indo-European (Indus/India), Anglo-Irish (Angles/English), typography (type), sapiosexual (sapient), etc. May 17 at 22:26
  • Could call it syncope May 18 at 10:18

1 Answer 1


Just based on the examples that you give, there are two plausible analyses. One is that final /e/ deletes whenever it is followed by another word in a compound. The other is that final /e/ deletes when followed by /e/ in a compound. Whichever is the correct analysis, there is no specific technical term attached to "first part of a compound which is adjusted by deleting a vowel". There is a term that refers generally to "phonologically adjusted forms of morphemes", namely allomorph, which also refers to the three pronunciations of the regular plural suffix in English, or the various stem changes in the inflection of an Estonian adjective like halb "bad".

  • to clarify: this (reduction) only occurs when the next compound begins with a vowel; or similar situations. any non-reduced form is simply an "inflected form". I was hoping there is a technical for such forms that never occur by themselves but "kind-a" occur when being placed in specific sound context. And yeah, I was not looking just for "first part of a compound".. it could be any part (but the last, in this case)
    – 62mkv
    May 17 at 18:38
  • 2
    This is where the "root/stem" metaphor works best, in SAE language (which Estonian is not, being Uralic). There are often several stem classes, each with a different bunch of possible stems, which may be restricted to certain constructions and inflections and never occur alone.
    – jlawler
    May 17 at 21:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.