Examples of enclitics occur in Latin, which has an interrogative particle -ne, and a conjunctive particle -que, amongst others.

Caesar puellam amat Caesar loves the girl.
Amatne Caesar puellam? Does Caesar love the girl?
Caesarne filiam amat? Is it Caesar who loves the girl?
Nonne Caesar filiam amat? Doesn't Caesar love the girl?

virginibus puerisque for girls and boys (pueris = for boys) - quote from Horace, also the title of a book by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Latin -que comes from an ancestral Proto-Indo-European *-kwe, as do the corresponding Greek enclitic -te and Sanskrit -ca. There is also a separate word for 'and', Latin et and Greek kai, which is not enclitic.

In Greek the possessive pronouns are also enclitic. We can regard the English possessive 's as enclitic too, because although it isn't pronounceable as a separate word, it behaves syntactically like one: the Queen of England's hair is the Queen's hair.

An enclitic follows the main word. A similar unstressed particle that precedes is called a proclitic. The general term for enclitics and proclitics is clitic.

Dutch possessives provide a more extensive example of enclitic elements.

The English possessive mentioned above is also present in Dutch:


  Jans boek    (John's book)
  Maries boek  (Mary's book)

(Unlike in English, it cannot be used with the plural.)

The "standalone" possessive forms in Dutch are zijn, haar and hun:


  zijn boek    (his book)
  haar boek    (her book)
  hun boek     (their book)

When unstressed they must be pronounced with a schwa, and the female singular with a leading d. There is an established convention to express this in spelling, although its use is completely optional:


  z'n boek     (his book - when the stress is on "book")
  d'r boek     (her book - when the stress is on "book")
  hun boek     (same spelling - the pronunciation isn't very different)

In spoken, informal Dutch, the standard way to form the possessive is the following, rather than the 's mentioned above:


  Jan z'n boek           (John's book)
  Marie d'r boek         (Mary's book)
  Jan en Marie hun boek  (John and Mary's book)

It is also used to replace the stressed forms:

  Die z'n boek           (his book, with stress on "his")
  Die d'r boek           (Mary's book)

(I'm not sure what the plural form would be; Hun hun boek it definitely isn't, but Hun d'r boek may be used.)

When used in this way, the Dutch possessive is a clear example of an enclitic element: it never carries stress and doesn't occur on its own.

The root of the English posessive suffix "'s" was an unapostrophized -s ending for the genitive case. However, by about 1550, people thought is was an enclitic form of "his" — this being when it was proper to refer to everyone with what are now the male pronouns (which it ain't anymore, so don't). Where once people had called the boat belonging to David

Davids boat

they began to 'correct themselves' to say:

David his boat

which drifted along through

David 'is boat

to (as Industrial Revolution and literacy more or less standardized English)

David's boat.


"To", as a marker of infinitive verbs, is enclitic in spoken American English:

I want to ride my motorcycle

is often pronounced, & sometimes spelled:

I wanna ride my motorcycle

In everyday speech, I almost never say or hear "I'm going to go"; it's "I'm gonna go". Writing does eventually follow speech, so it's possible that this will be as accepted a spelling as "Beatrice's" in a hundred years.


This writup has benefitted from kind correction by Cletus the Foetus and http://www.quinion.com/words/qa/qa-pos2.htm

En*clit"ic (?), En*clit"ic*al (?), a. [L. encliticus, Gr. , fr. to incline; in + to bend. See In, and Lean, v. i.] Gram.

Affixed; subjoined; -- said of a word or particle which leans back upon the preceding word so as to become a part of it, and to lose its own independent accent, generally varying also the accent of the preceding word.

 

© Webster 1913.


En*clit"ic, n. Gram.

A word which is joined to another so closely as to lose its proper accent, as the pronoun thee in prithee (pray thee).

 

© Webster 1913.

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