In classical poetry, if two vowels are next to each other (without a consonant in between), there are two ways to avoid the collision:
- Elision removes one of the vowels when the vowels meet at a word boundary.
- Synizesis works within a word, combining two adjacent vowels from different syllables into one syllable.
Neither of these two sound changes is marked in writing.
My experience suggests that when possible, elision happens almost always and synizesis almost never. (I asked a separate question about the frequency of synizesis.) It seems as if hiatus was a bigger problem between words than within a word, and this feels weird to me. I feel that streamlining within a word is more important than gluing words together seamlessly. When studying Latin poetry, I have never seen this issue addressed or even mentioned.
Can you explain why elision is so much more common than synizesis? I understand that "why?" is not an easy question to answer, but I hope that someone has thought and written about this issue although I have not managed to find anything.
Let me elaborate on what I mean by elision being more common than synizesis. (Thanks Joel Derfner for pointing out the need for clarification here.) I do not mean a difference in frequency per verse, but a difference in frequency per possibility. It seems to me that if an elision is possible, there is a 98 % change for it to take place, but the corresponding probability for synizesis is more like 1 %. Don't quote me on the numbers, though, as I have nothing but experience (without statistics) to support them, but they should make the point clear enough. One can also reformulate my question this way: Why, when the possibility arises, does elision happen almost always and synizesis almost never?
If it turns out that synizesis is not as rare as I think, an answer explaining this misconception would be fine. In that case I would appreciate an answer to the linked question about frequency, but an answer without actual statistics is acceptable here.