Fleeting vowels in Abrdn

The asset manager Standard Life Aberdeen has struggled to establish its brand ever since it was formed by a merger in 2017 between the insurer Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management. Have they now found an answer? The company announced in April 2021 that it would rebrand itself as Abrdn and that the name would be pronounced … Aberdeen.
abrdn – our new name | abrdn

Comment on this rebranding really is superfluous. But the elimination of the vowels reminds me loosely of an important process in the history of the Slavonic languages. Some vowels (‘fleeting vowels’) were retained in some positions and deleted in others. Here is an example using the word for sleep or dream, in both the nominative singular (where the fleeting vowel appears in the middle) and the genitive singular (where it doesn’t).

Language
Russian
Polish
Czech
Bosnian/Croatian/
Serbian

Nominative
son
sen
sen
san

Genitive
sna
snu
sna
sna

Russian transliterated from Cyrillic сон сна

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: