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Grammar: Assimilation

Assimilation refers to the way that sounds change to match the other sounds around them. This is very common at word boundaries, or when a prefix or suffix is added to a word. In Latin, there is a strong tendency to write the resulting word the way that it sounded, which can make it hard to recognize the parts that were involved. Here's an example:

  • ad + fero: affero. the "d" is assimilated to the "f"
  • ad + gredior: aggredior. the "d" is assimilated to the "g"
  • ad + simulo: assimilo. the "d" is assimilated (!!!) to the "s"
  • ad + tuli: attuli. the "d" is assimilated to the "t"
  • ad + capio: accipio. the "d" is assimilated to the "c", plus the stem vowel "a" changes to "i" in compounds.
  • ad + habeo: adhibeo. the stem vowel "a" changes to "i" in compounds.
  • ad + scendo: ascendo. the "d" falls out, overwhelmed by the consonant cluster "sc" (you can only put so many consonants in a row!)
  • ad + scribo: ascribo. the "d" falls out, overwhelmed by the consonant cluster "scr".

Modern Languages 4970 / MRS 4903: Medieval Latin. Spring 2003 Online Course at the University of Oklahoma. Visit http://www.ou.edu/online/ for more info.
Laura Gibbs, University of Oklahoma - Information Technology © 2003.  laura-gibbs@ou.edu. Last updated: December 29, 2002 7:12 PM