Shortened words and conversation in Modern English

The shortening of words consists in substituting a part for a whole. The process of shortening isn’t confined only to words; many word-groups also become shortened in the process of communication.

Therefore, the term “shortening of words” is to be regarded as conventional, as it involves the shortening of both words and word-groups. Shortened variants of words and phrases are used as independent lexical units. Some of them occur both in oral and written speech, others only in oral colloquial speech, e.g. bus, mike, phone, on the one hand, and trig, math, sis, on the other. Shortened words are structurally simple words and in most cases have the same lexical meaning as the longer words from which they are derived (exam-examination), but there are some exceptions (cab – наемный экипаж, cabriolet – кабриолет). In fact, the shortened unit is a word-variant

of the word of the word.

Among shortening of the lexical type distinction should be made between lexical abbreviation and clipping.

Lexical abbreviations are formed by a simultaneous operation of shortenings compounding. There are two ways of pronouncing such abbreviations:

the alphabetical reading of the constituent letters: Y. C. L. – Young Communist League, B. B. C. – British Broadcasting Corporation, T. V. – television;

if the applications are ordinary,  sounds are denoted by the constituent letters; UNO – United Nations  Organization, NATO – North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Lexical abbreviations don’t include functional words (prep, articles, etc.), R. and D. – research and development program.

There are some cases when only the 1st component of a two-member word-group or the 1st two components of a three-member group are shortened: V-day – Victory

Day, H-bomb – hydrogen bomb, V. J. – Victory over Japan Day.

Clipping consists in the cutting off of 1 or several syllables of a word. They are classified into several types depending on which part of the word is clipped:

words shortened at the end: ad -advertisement, lab – laboratory;

words shortened at the  beginning: car – motor-car, phone – telephone;

words in which some syllables have been omitted from the middle : maths – mathematics, pants – pantaloons, specs – spectacles;

words that have been clipped both at the beginning and at the and: flu – influenza, tec – detective, frig – refrigerator.

It’s typical of word-clipping in Modern English that in most cases it’s the nouns that are shortened.

There are very few clipped adjectives all of them belonging to jargonisms ard – ardent, dilly – delightful. As for clipped verbs it’s usually a case of conversion from clipped nouns: to taxi – taxi, to phone – phone, to perm – perm.




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