Hidalgo and other Spanish syncopations

Linguistic syncopes are confusing for musicians, who think of syncopation as redistributive rather than reductive. Confusingly, too, many of the syncopated words in Juan de Valdés’ gem of early descriptive linguistics and linguistic politicking, Diálogo de la lengua (late 1530s), are not produced by medial deletions. Here’s the conventional scheme of things (Hartmann & Stork, Dictionary of language and linguistics (1972)):

at beginning of word in middle of word at end of word
elision
(omission)
aphesis
prosiopesis
syncope apocope
intrusion
(addition)
prothesis anaptyxis
epenthesis
paragogue

And here‘s some Valdés:

In reply to your question, I would say that we principally use syncopated words in two manners. Of one I do not approve; it is used in a certain part of Spain by the common people, who say traxon, dijon, hizon for traxeron, dijeron, hizieron; I say that I do not approve of it because those who prize themselves on writing well view this style of speech as bad and reprehensible, because they wish words to be pronounced and written complete when the parliament of vowels [ayuntamiento de vocales, and nothing to do with Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls] does not cause ugliness. The other style of syncopated words is good, and, as such, we all use it, saying: Allá van leyes do quieren reyes, and: Do quiera que vayas, de los tuyos ayas, in which, if you look, we use do in place of adonde; we also use hi for hijo, saying hi de vezino for hijo de vezino, hi de puta, for hijo de puta, and hidalgo for hijo dalgo.

There are still lots of (Hijo) Dalgos around, although dalgo is itself of course a compression of de and algo, so that hidalgo leads to “son of something”.

While they are rare, it would have been good if Valdés had also written about items in the above table’s second row, as well as about playful transformations like Dé donde diere.

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