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From the examples of litotuko versus litkovrilo, and from the listing of both lignoglavo and lignglavo here I concluded that the the inclusion of -o- between two connected roots is at the discretion of the author, determined by what's easy to pronounce. Is that true or are there more deterministic rules?

A tightly related question is what grammatical affixes can be left out. In this answer I noticed flavĉapela leaves out an -a- or perhaps even an -e- so aparently this follows different restrictions than those of poetic elision (rule 16). Are there examples for either of -o- / -a- / -e- / -i- excluded? Or can I always do it, as long as I don't create a tongue twister?

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I think you are right that -o- is only added when it makes it easier to pronounce. PMEG has a long description of this. I don’t think this is related to rule 16 about leaving out the final -o. The rules for combining words are separate and it is normal to leave out the ending here, instead of just being for poetic reasons.

For the second part of your question, according to PMEG, if the first word being combined would naturally end in -a then it must be left out. It gives the example dikfingro, which is not a fingro de diko but simply a dika fingro. It is not correct to say dikafingro. If the pronunciation of the combined word is too difficult then it is preferable to use two words instead, such as granda magazeno instead of grandmagazeno.

PMEG goes on to say that when combining with a verb ending in -i it is usual to leave it in, such as pagipova. However, most verbs can naturally be converted to a noun describing the action by changing the ending to -o so pagopova is also valid. By extension it is also possible to leave out the -o as with any other noun to make pagpova.

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    "ĝustatempe" is not a counterexample. On the page you link to, PMEG explains that the rules for link vowels are different for a different kind of word formation: "En alia speco de kunmetaĵo, frazetvortoj, oni uzas ligfinaĵojn laŭ aliaj reguloj.". In the page on this kind of word formation (bertilow.com/pmeg/vortfarado/principoj/antauelementoj.html), PMEG explains that "La ligfinaĵo dependas de la origina frazeto". One example given is "multabranĉa". The word "ĝustatempe" is of the same kind. It is an adverb derived from the phrase "je ĝusta tempo". – Marcos Cramer Dec 15 '16 at 23:20
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    @MarcosCramer Ah, I clearly didn’t read enough. I’ll remove the part about “ĝustatempe”. Thanks for the explanation. – Neil Roberts Dec 16 '16 at 7:00
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I think you are spot on. I use it according to what I think sounds better. I try to think about how I can make it easier for the other person to understand what I am saying. Tongue-twisters don't help, haha. And sometimes I can shorten, sometimes I spell it out.

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Yes. You are correct. It is up to the speaker / writer.

The -o is usually omitted unless its presence eases pronunciation (in the opinion of the speaker). http://pages.ucsd.edu/~dkjordan/eo/colloq/colloq040.html#sec4-1-2

About your other question regarding -e -a endings, you always have to omit the ending otherwise just make it two separate words.

In poetry, you can only omit the -o ending for nouns.

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