I was reading an old document put on the web and saw “siam” where I expected “siamo.”

I was about to report a typo when I realized that at least a third of the verbs were that way—“dobbiam” and “abbiam” per esempio.

Was that ever normal long long ago?

  • 5
    It is still normal, I do it all the time :-)
    – user193
    Mar 16 '14 at 18:45
  • You mean 1st person plurals, don't you?
    – DaG
    Mar 16 '14 at 20:49
  • @randomatlabuser, I agree it's still normal, but if you really do it all the time I fear people may think you are a poet... Mar 16 '14 at 23:10
  • 1
    @Walter Tross, probably this is something Italians do all the time without really being aware of it. Consider the polirematica (1, 2) "un bel po' ": three apocopic words for a very frequent phrase used every day by millions of people who are not poets and presumably ignore what an apocope is.
    – user193
    Mar 17 '14 at 3:33
  • 1
    "siam peccatori ma figli tuoi" :-)
    – mau
    Mar 17 '14 at 9:23

It is an apocope (in Italian troncamento or apocope), a usual phenomenon in which one or more final letters of a word are omitted, usually for metrical or general euphonic reasons, not specific of a particular grammatical person or number (but with its own empirical rules).

Some troncamenti are now fixed (think about buon giorno rather than *buono giorno, un uomo rather than *uno uomo, dottor Rossi vs.*dottore Rossi). Others are optional, and left to one's sense of the language and the different emphasis to be given to a sentence (ti vuole bene as well as ti vuol bene).

In Italian you can read more about it in Treccani Enciclopedia dell'Italiano's article about troncamento.

  • 1
    "un uomo" is not an apocope actually, as "un" does exist as article
    – Mad Hatter
    Mar 16 '14 at 21:06
  • 2
    Thanks for your remark, but the article is actually uno, which «ha al masch. sing. la variante apocopata un» (treccani.it/vocabolario/uno).
    – DaG
    Mar 16 '14 at 21:10
  • Touché, I'm sorry.
    – Mad Hatter
    Mar 16 '14 at 21:12
  • let me expand on an example of yours: ti vuole bene parlare di me vs ti vuol ben parlar di me Mar 16 '14 at 23:02
  • Thanks for the interesting info about troncamento. I will have to read that article. Turns out this time, though, it was just a lot of sloppy typing--I found another web page with the same text except no dropped 'o'
    – WGroleau
    Mar 17 '14 at 2:46

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