I am doing some informal research into dynamic speech and narrative generation, and I've been looking into some local colloquialism and having a little bit of difficultly classifying a set of them. I would call them "super-contractions" or "a contraction of contractions". But I'm curious if there is a better word/phrase that represents them.

For example:

I am going to tell him that!
I'm going to tell him that!
I'm gonna' tell him that!
I'm'a tell him that!
Ima tell him that!

  • 'I'm' and 'gonna' are separate contractions, so no word is necessary to describe the uninteresting fact that one follows the other. Do you have good evidence for the use of the last two? – Barrie England Dec 21 '11 at 16:00
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    @BarrieEngland Imma is definitely used in some southern dialects in the US, as well as in AAVE. Give this a listen, if you care to: youtube.com/watch?v=i2FR2HpUpz4 – user13141 Dec 21 '11 at 16:04
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    I'd like to go with hypercontraction, which is used to describe muscle contractions. – user13141 Dec 21 '11 at 16:05
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    Related (not duplicate): english.stackexchange.com/q/50/11762 – yoozer8 Dec 21 '11 at 18:59
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    I know a 5yo who says dwut? instead of do you know what? – Daniel Dec 21 '11 at 19:43

I was considering evolutionary or progressive or intensive contraction. However, these words have connotations of aiming for better, which does not seem to work in terms of contraction.

Then I would suggest degenerative contraction. I would also consider iterative or recursive contraction. These suggestions are far from being precise, but they might give you some inspiration.

Edit: Based on some wisdom from the comments, I would also call it over-contraction, since the contraction Ima or even I'm'a could make little sense to and confuse people.

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  • +1 for degenerative contraction. It was in my mind to suggest that by the time he reached the last two, OP's "contractions" were really just degenerate forms. What's with this recent flurry of questions (often from non-native speakers) wanting to know how far they can take written contractions? Do they think it makes them sound more "fluent"? – FumbleFingers Dec 22 '11 at 0:02
  • I, at least for the time being, am going to go with over-contraction in the documentation. I think it aptly fits the concept I am looking for. – J. Holmes Dec 22 '11 at 13:51

I would use "double contraction" which sounds more clear

Suffix-Prefix Double Contractions: suffix-prefix double contractions are formed from two contractions where the suffix of one contraction is the prefix of the other:

she + would + have = she'd + would've = she'd've

Prefix-Prefix Double Contractions: prefix-prefix double contractions, are formed from two contractions that share a prefix:

they + will + have = they'll + they've = they'll've

Peculiar Cases: double contractions where one of the contractions isn't arrived at formulaically makes the double contraction peculiar:

he will not = he'll not = he'lln't
he will not = he won't = he'on't

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Since double contractions are regularly and frequently used even in educated speech, English grammar should have a place for them!

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  • While I agree with the sentiment, -1 for not (clearly) answering the question. – DougM Jan 23 '14 at 5:09

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