Library - Syncope

Pronunciation | Listenings | Vocabulary


No matter how good your English grammar and vocabulary may be, if your pronunciation is so bad that nobody can understand a word you say, then your English won't be much good as a means of communication. You might be good at grammar, have a broad vocabulary, and be able to explain all the aspects and tenses of English, but it's not much good if you can't be understood when you speak. I have designed these Activities to help you to improve your pronunciation, as well as other areas of your English.


Reading is the easiest way to take in English. Listening is a much harder skill and one that has to be developed as you study the language. There are lots of speech features that arise when native English speakers speak English. These speech features, such as elision, simplification, intonation, stress, and rhythm, and the way in which speakers may miss out sounds or whole words, are important to understand if you are to be able to listen to and fully understand spoken English. These Britlish Library Activities will help you to develop you listening skills.  


Did you know that there are over 600,000 words in English? That's a lot of words, and far more than any human being could ever manage to learn. Even Shakespeare only used around 55,000 different words in all of his works. Mind you, he did actually invent quite a few of them. To get a good mastery of English, you do need to expand your vocabulary as much as possible. The more words you know, the better your English will be. The Activities here will help you to quickly develop your vocabulary.

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The word library is one of the words that students try very hard to pronounce properly, yet still get wrong. Other words like family, vegetable, chocolate, natural, favourite, medicine, general, and many more are also syncopated when we speak at a normal, fast-spoken rate. Many students initially refuse to believe that a word they have been pronouncing with three syllables all their life can be, and indeed, normally is, pronounced with just two syllables. Perhaps you are one of these students? If you are, prepare to be shocked and amazed by this lesson.

From the OED:

syncope, n. (ˈsɪŋkəpɪ) 

Forms: 5 syn-, 5–6 sincopis, 6 cincopis (5–6 -in, 6 -yne); 6–7 syncopa; anglicized 7 sincop, 8 syncop; 7– syncope. 

[In earliest use, sincopis, incorrect nom. inferred from sincopin (so in 13th c. OF.), orthographic var. of syncopēn, acc. of late L. syncopē (also syncopa), a. Gr. συγκοπή, f. σύν syn-1 + κοπ-, stem of κόπτειν to strike, beat, cut off, weary. The current form is based directly on the Gr. (Cf. It., Sp., Pg. sincopa.) For the disyllabic syncop, cf. F. syncope (s‹opetilde›kɔp).] 

2.2 Gram. = syncopation 1. Also attrib. and in Comb. 

   1530 Palsgr. 392 In the future indycatyve and present potenciall I fynde somtyme syncopa used, as pouruoyray‥for pouruoyeray.    1579 E. K. Gloss Spenser's Sheph. Cal., May 61 Nas, is a syncope, for ne has, or has not: as nould for would not.    1679 Alsop Melius Inq. i. i. 45 Augustin (or rather Austin; for his Name as well as his Fame suffers a Syncope).    1764 Swinton in Phil. Trans. LIV. 419 Instances of such a syncope, or extrusion,‥are not seldom found in‥the Old Testament.    1903 Winbolt Lat. Hexam. Verse 212.    1953 K. H. Jackson Lang. & Hist. in Early Britain ii. 614 A Pr[imitive] W[elsh] syncope-form *Car'dig.    1972 Language XLVIII. 350 The same syncope rule which is optional in Russian /stl/ and /stk/ clusters is obligatory in /stn/ and /zdn/ clusters.    Ibid., Maximal distinctiveness, hence retention of the consonant, is manifested in the explicit subcode of contemporary standard Russian; whereas partial absence of distinctiveness, hence syncope of the consonant, is manifested in the elliptic subcode.

Syncopation - syncope

Gram. Contraction of a word by omission of one or more syllables or letters in the middle; transf., a word so contracted. 

   c 1532 G. Du Wes Introd. Fr. in Palsgr. 898 Syncopation is none other thyng by abreviation of length.    1623 Penkethman Handf. Hon. Pref., Catus an old syncopation of Cautus.    1873 F. Hall Mod. Eng. 175 Such syncopations and compressions as gave us arbalist, governor, pedant, and proctor, from arcubalista, gubernator, pædagogans, and procurator.

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