Minor Types of Lexical Opposition (Shortened Words)

Common characteristics of the qualification work. General definition of homonyms. Graphical abbreviations, acronyms. Abbreviations as the major type of shortenings. Secondary ways of shortening: sound interchange and sound imitating. Blendening of words.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
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Язык английский
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The English and Literature department

Halimova Muborak's qualification work on speciality 5220100, English philology on the theme:

Shortened words Minor types of lexical opposition




I. Introduction.

1.1. Common characteristics of the qualification work

2.1. General definition of homonyms

II. The Main Part

1.2. Shortening of spoken words

2.2. Graphical abbreviations and acronyms

3.2. Abbreviations as the major type of shortenings

4.2. Secondary ways of shortening: sound interchange and sound imitating

5.2. Blendening of words

6.2. Back formation

7.2. Back formation as a source for shortening of words

III. Conclusion

1.3. Total review of the subject discussed

2.3. The ways of applying of the work

IV. Bibliography


1.1 Common characteristics of the qualification work

The theme of my qualification work sounds as following: “Type of shortening and their function in Modern English” This qualification work can be characterized by the following:

The actuality of this work caused by several important points. We seem to say that the shortening of the words is one of the main trends in development of Modern English, especially in its colloquial layer, which, in its turn at high degree is supported by development of modern informational technologies and simplification of alive speech. So the significance of our work can be proved by the following reasons:

a) Shortening of words is one of the developing branches of lexicology nowadays.

b) Shortening reflects the general trend of simplification of a language.

c) Shortening is closely connected with the development of modern informational technologies.

d) Being a developing branch of linguistics it requires a special attention of teachers to be adequated to their specialization in English.

Having based upon the actuality of the theme we are able to formulate the general goals of our qualification work.

a) To study, analyze, and sum up all the possible changes happened in the studied branch of linguistics for the past fifty years.

b) To teach the problem of shortening to young English learners.

c) To demonstrate the significance of the problem for those who want to brush up their English.

d) To mention all the major of linguists' opinions concerning the subject studied.

If we say about the new information used within our work we may note that the work studies the problem from the modern positions and analyzes the modern trends appeared in this subject for the last ten years. In particular, the shorten language of computer chats was taken into consideration.

The practical significance of the work can be concluded in the following items:

a) The work could serve as a good source of learning English by young teachers at schools and colleges.

b) The lexicologists could find a lot of interesting information for themselves.

c) those who would like to communicate with the English-speaking people through the Internet will find a shortened language of chats in our qualification work.

Having said about the linguists studied the material before we can mention that our qualification work was based upon the investigations made by a number of well known English, Russian and Uzbek lexicologists as A.I. Smirnitsky, B.A. Ilyish, N. Buranov, V.V. Vinogradov, O. Jespersen and some others.

If we say about the methods of scientific approaches used in our work we can mention that the method of typological analysis was used.

The novelty of the work is concluded in including the language of charts to one of the chapter of the qualification work.

The general structure of our qualification work looks as follows:

The work is composed onto three major parts: introduction, main part and conclusion. Each part has its subdivision onto the specific thematically items. There are two points in the introductory part: the first item tells about the general content of the work while the other gives us the general explanation of the lexicological phenomenon of shortening in a language. The main part bears the eight points in itself. The first point explains the shortening of spoken words in particular. The second item analyzes the phenomenon of graphical abbreviations and acronyms. In the third point we study abbreviations as the major way of shortening. In the fourth paragraph of the qualification work we deal with the secondary ways of shortening: sound interchange and sound imitation. The fifth paragraph takes into consideration the question of Blendening of words. The sixth item shows us the back formation examples. The last paragraph of the main part analyzes the homonymy influence onto the appearing of shortening.

The conclusion of the qualification work sums up the ideas discussed in the main part (the first item) and shows the ways of implying of the qualification work (in the second item).

2.1 General definition of homonyms

Word-building processes involve not only qualitative but also quantitative changes. Thus, derivation and compounding represent addition, as affixes and free stems, respectively, are added to the underlying form. Shortening, on the other hand, may be represented as significant subtraction, in which part of the original word is taken away. The spoken and the written forms of the English language have each their own patterns of shortening, but as there is a constant exchange between both spheres, it is sometimes difficult to tell where a given shortening really originated.


The shortening of words consists in sub-of words Graphical a part for a whole. The process оf shortening is not confined only to words; many word-groups also become shortened in the pro-cess 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.

Distinction should be made between shortening of words in written speech and in the sphere of oral intercourse. Shortening of words in written speech results in graphical abbreviations which are, in fact, signs representing words and word-groups of high frequency of occurrence in various spheres of human activity; note, for instance, RD for Road and St for Street in addresses on envelopes and in letters; to for tube, are for aerial in Radio Engineering literature, etc. English graphical abbreviations include rather numerous shortened variants of Latin and French words and word-groups, e. g. a. m. (L. ante meridian)--'in the morning, before noon'; p. m. (L. post meridian)--'in the afternoon, afternoon'; i.e. (L. widest)--'that is'; R. S. V. P. (Fr. Repondez sil vous plait) -- 'reply please', etc.

The characteristic feature of graphical abbreviations is that they are restricted in use to written speech, occurring only in various kinds of texts, articles, books, advertisements, letters, etc. In reading many of them are substituted by the words and phrases that they represent, e. g., Dr.-doctor, Mr.-mister, Oct.-October, etc., the abbreviations of Latin and French words and phrases being usually read as their Eng-lish equivalents. It is only natural that in the course of language development some graphical abbreviations should gradually penetrate into the sphere of oral intercourse and, as a result, turn into lexical abbreviations used both in oral and written speech. That is the case, for instance, with M. P. Member of Parliament, S.O.S. Save our Souls, etc. Lexical Shortened variants of words and shortening, phrases are used as independent lexical units with a certain phonetic shape and a semantic structure of their own. Some of them occur both in oral and written speech, others only in oral colloquial speech, cf. bus, mike, phone, on the one hand, and trig, math's, sis, on the other.

In most cases a shortened word exists in the vocabulary together with the longer word from which it is derived and usually has the same lexical meaning1 differing only in emotive charge and stylistic reference. The question naturally aris-es whether the shortened forms and the original forms should be considered separate words. Some linguists hold the view that as the two units (e. g. exam and examination) do not differ in meaning but only in stylistic application, it would be wrong to apply the term word to the shortened unit. In fact, the shortened unit is a word-variant (e. g. exam is a word-variant of the word examination).

Other linguists contend that even when the original word and its shortened form are generally used with "a difference in the implied tone of feeling" they are both to be recognized as two distinct words. If this treatment of the process of word-shortening is accepted, the essential difference between the shortening of words and the usual process of word-formation (such as affixation, compounding, etc.) should be pointed out. It will be recalled that words built by affixation, for instance, are of a more complex character both structurally and semantically, cf. teach--teacher, develop--s- development, usual-unusual, etc. It is not the case with word-shortening; shortened words are structurally simple words and, as was mentioned above, in most cases have the same lexical meaning as the longer words from which they are derived. Another peculiarity of word-shortening if treated as a derivational process is that there are no structural patterns after which new shortened words could be coined. At any rate, linguistic research has failed to establish any so far.

Among shortenings of the lexical type distinction should be made between lexical abbreviations and clippings- Lexical abbreviations are formed by a simultaneous operation of shortening and compounding, which accounts for the Russian term сложно-сокращенные слова universally applied to them in Soviet linguistic literature. They are made up of the initial sounds or syllables of the components of a word-group or a compound word usually of a terminological character. There are two ways to read and pronounce such abbreviations:

As a succession of the alphabetical readings of the constituent letters, e. g.

В. В. С,['bi:'bi:si:] = British Broadcasting Corporation; -T.V. ['ti:'vi:] television; etc.

as a succession of sounds denoted by the constituent letters, i. e. as if the abbreviations were ordinary words, e.g. UNO ['ju:noy] = United Nations Organization; NATO ['neitou] = North Atlantic Treaty Organization; laser

[`leiza] light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation; etc.

As a rule, lexical abbreviations do not include functional words (prepositions, articles, etc.). although there are some exceptions, e. g. R. and D. [ 'a:rsn'di:] research and development program.

In some cases only the first component of a two-member word-group or the first two components of a three-member group are shortened, the last one undergoing no change at all, e. g. V-day r'vi: 'dei]Victory Day; H-bomb r'eitj 'bnm] hydrogen Domb; V.J.-Day ['vi'dgei'dei] = Victory over Japan Day, etc.

As a general rule, lexical abbreviations first make their appearance in written speech, mostly in newspaper style and in the style of scientific prose, and gradually find their way into the sphere of oral intercourse. Ginzburg R.S. et al. A Course in Modern English Lexicology. M., 1979 pp.72-82

Clipping consists in the cutting off of one or several syllables of a word. In many cases the stressed syllable is preserved, e. g. sis from sister, Jap from Japanese, doc from doctor, etc. Diminutives of proper names are often formed in this way, e. g. AH from Alfred, Ed from Edward, Sam from Samuel, etc. Sometimes, however, it is the unstressed syllable that remains e. g. phone from telephone, plane from airplane, dome from aerodrome, etc. Traditionally clippings are classified into several types depending on which part of the word is clipped:

Words that have been shortened at the end--the so called apocope ['opokop]--апокопа, е. g. ad from advertisement, lab from laboratory, etc.

Words that have been shortened at the beginning--the so-called aphaeresis [a'fiansisj -- аферезис, е. g. car from motor-car, phone from telephone, etc.

Words in which some syllables or sounds have been omitted from the middle--the so-called syncope ['sinkapi] -- синкопа, е.g. math's from mathematics, pants from pantaloons specs from spectacles, etc.

Words that have been clipped both at the beginning and at the end, e. g. flu from influenza, tic from detective, frig from refrigerator, etc.

It is typical of word-clipping in Modern English that in most cases it is the nouns that are shortened. There are very few clipped adjectives all of them belonging to jargonize, e. g. add from ardent, dilly from delightful and some others. As for clipped verbs it is usually a case of conversion from clipped nouns, e. g. to taxi from taxi, to phone from phone, to perm from perm--'a permanent wave', etc.

1) When performing in the sentence some peculiarities the syntactical functions of ordinary of Clipped words and lexical Abbreviations, abbreviations take on grammatical inflections, e. g. exams, M. P. s (will attack huge arms bill), (Tory) M. P.'s (concern at), etc.

These two categories of shortened words may be used with the definite and the indefinite article, e. g. the В. В. С, a bike, the radar, etc. Buranov, Muminov Readings on Modern English Lexicology T. O'qituvchi 1985 pp. 34-47

They may be combined with derivational affixes and also be used in compounding, e. g. Y. С L.-er-- 'member of the Y.C.L.'; M. P.-ess--'woman-member of Parliament'; hanky from handkerchief, nighttime from nightdress (with the diminutive suffix -ie); radar man--оператор радиолокационой станции, etc.

Clipped words are characteristic of colloquial speech. The number of clipped words used in everyday speech is rather considerable and newly clipped words keep entering the vocabu-lary.

In the course of time many clipped words find their way into the literary language losing their stylistic coloring, though not infrequently they still preserve the stamp of collo-quial words and, as a result, are restricted in use.

The term blending is used to de-§ 39. Blending signage the method of merging parts of words (not morphemes) into one new word; the result is a blend, also known as a portmanteau word. The noun smog is an example in point. It is composed of the parts of the nouns smoke and fog (smoke-Hog). Thus blending is in fact com-pounding by means of clipped words. The result of blending is an unanalyzed, simple word, for the parts of words blended by the word-coiner (for instance, sin and go in smog) are not morphemes at all in terms of the English language. Therefore a blend is perceived as a simple word unless speakers have re-ceived the extra-linguistic information about its composition. Many blends are short-lived. A fair proportion, however, have become established in the vocabulary, e. g. clash--clap H-crash or dash; flush = flash blush; brunch--breakfast-Ь lunch; 5language=slang-language; amaze smoke haze, etc. In most cases blends belong to the colloquial layer of words sometimes bordering on slang, e. g. amaze, brunch, language, politician pollute politician--грязный политикан, etc. There are numerous blends, however, in the terminological sector of the vocabulary, e.g. recon=radar beacon--радиолокационный маяк; transceiver = transmitter-receive--приемное-передающая станция; transistor=transfer resistor--транзистор, etc.

In considering the diachronic and the formation synchronic approach to language study (see 'Introduction', § 2) reference was made, in particular, to the verb to beg derived from the noun beggar borrowed from Old French. The noun beggar was later presumed to have been derived from a shorter word on the analogy of the derivative correlation of the "speak--speaker" type. This process of word-formation is called backformation (or back-derivation) and has diachronic relevance only. It does not affect the derivative correlation for present-day speakers who do not feel any difference between the relationship "speak-- speaker", on the one hand, and "beg--beggar", on the other. Examples of backformation are numerous: to burgle from burglar; to edit from editor; to enthuse from enthusiasm; to sculpt from sculptor, to liaise from liaison, etc. At the present time backformation combined with conversion seems to be active in the formation of verbs from compound nouns mostly of a terminological character, e.g. to blood-transfuse from blood-trans fusion -- переливание крови; to rush-develop from rush-development -- быстрое проявление пленки; to finger-print from finger-printing -- взятие отпечатков пальцев; to baby-sit from baby-sitter= приходящая няня, etc.

Sound-interchange is the gradation of e.g. Sound- and stress- sounded occupying one and the same interchange. Place in the sound-form of one and the same morpheme in various cases of its occurrence. Both sound and stress-interchange may be regarded as ways of forming words only diachronically because in Modern English not a single word can be coined by changing the root-vowel of a word or by shifting the place of the stress. Sound-interchange as well as stress-interchange is absolutely non-productive and in fact has turned into a means of distinguishing between different words, primarily between words of different parts of speech and as such is rather wide-spread in Modern English, e.g. to sing--song, to live--life, to breathe--breath, etc. It also distinguishes between different word-forms, e.g. man--men, wife--wives, to know--knew, to leave--left, etc.

Sound-interchange naturally falls into two groups: vowel-interchange and consonant-interchange.

By means of vowel-interchange we distinguish different parts of speech, e.g. full--to fill, food--to feed, blood-to bleed, etc. In some cases vowel-interchange is combined with affixation, e.g. long--length, strong--strength, broad-- breadth; nature--natural, nation--national, etc. Intransi-tive verbs and corresponding transitive ones with a causative meaning also display vowel-interchange, e.g. to rise--to raise, to sit--to set, to He--to lay, to fall--to fell.

The type of consonant-interchange typical of Modern English is the interchange of a voiceless fricative consonant in a noun and the corresponding voiced consonant in the cor-responding verb, e.g.: use--to use, mouth--to mouth, house-to house, advice--to advise, etc.

There are some particular cases of consonant-interchange: [k]--[tj]: to speak--speech; to break--breach; [s]--[dj:] defense--to defend; offence--to offend; [sj--ft]: evidence-evident; importance--important; etc. Consonant-interchange may be combined with vowel-interchange, e.g. bath--to bathe; breath--to breathe; life--to live, etc.

Many English verbs of Latin-French origin are distin-guished from the corresponding nouns by the position of stress. Here are some well-known examples of such pairs of words: 'export «--to export o; 'import n--to import v; 'conduct n--to conduct v; 'present n--to present v; 'contrast n-- to contrast u; 'increase n---to increase v, etc.

Stress-interchange is not restricted to pairs of words con-sisting of a noun and a verb. It may also occur between other parts of speech, for instance, between adjective and verb, cf. 'frequent adj--to frequent v, 'absent ad\-- to absent v, etc.

Relationship Sound-interchange in English is often Between sound (stress)- combined with a difference only in the interchange paradigm. Hence the question arises and conversion. Of the relativistic between sound-interchange and conversion. To investigate the problem the following three types of relations should be distinguished:

1) Breath--to breathe

As far as cases of this type are concerned, sound-interchange distinguishes only between words; it does not differentiate word-forms of one and the same word. Consequently it has no relation to the paradigms of the words. Hence, cases of this type cannot be regarded as conversion.

2) Song--to sing

In the given example the vowel in song interchanges with three different vowels, the latter interchanging with one another in the forms of the verb to sing: Buranov, Muminov Readings on Modern English Lexicology T. O'qituvchi 1985 pp. 34-47

Like the previous type, the words song--to sing is not related by conversion: song differs from to sing (sang, sung) not only in the paradigm, its root-vowel not occurring in the word-forms of the verb and vice versa.

3) House--to house

In such cases the type of sound-interchange used to distinguish the two words (verb and noun) is the same as that which distinguishes the word-forms of the noun, cf. house [haus]--houses [hauziz] and to house [hauz]. Consequently, the only difference between the two words lies in their para-digms, in other words, word-pairs like house--to house are cases of conversion. It is fairly obvious that in such cases as present--to present, accent---to accent, etc. which differ in the position of stress the latter does not distinguish the word-forms within the paradigm of the two words. Thus, as far as cases of this type are concerned, the difference in stress is similar to the function of sound-interchange in cases like breath--to breathe. Consequently, cases of this type do not belong to conversion.

1. Shortening of words and word summary groups is typical of present-day English a one occurring in various spheres of oral and written intercourse. Graphical abbreviations are restricted in use to written speech. Lexical abbreviations and especially clippings are peculiar to the sphere of oral communi-cation

The result of blending which is a compounding of clipped words is always a simple word. In most cases blends belong to the colloquial layer of words. There are, however, numerous blends in the terminological section of the vocabulary.

The process of back formation is of diachronic relevance only.

The function of sound-interchange and stress-inter change in Modern English is to distinguish between different words and word-forms. Sound-interchange is often accompanied by affixation.

The Main Part


As a type of word-building shortening of spoken words, also called clipping or curtailment, is recorded in the English language as far back a& the 15th century.1 It has grown more and more productive ever since. This growth becomes especially marked in many European languages in the 20th century, and it is a matter of common knowledge that this development is particularly intense in English.

Newly shortened words appear continuously; this is testified by numerous neologisms, such as dub v, a cinema term meaning 'to make another recording of sound-track in a film in a different language' (from double); frig or fridge n from refrigerator; mike n from microphone; tellie, telly or T. V. n from television set; vacun from vacuum cleaner, etc.

Many authors are inclined to overemphasize the role of "the strain of modern life" as the mainspring of this development. This is, obviously, only one of the reasons, and the purely linguistic factors should not be overlooked. Among the major forces are the demands of rhythm, which are more readily satisfied when the words are monosyllabic.

When dealing with words of long duration, one will also note that a high percentage of English shortenings are involved into the process of loan word assimilation. Monosyllabic goes farther in English than in any other European language, and that is why shortened words sound more like native ones than their long prototypes. Curtailment may therefore be regarded as caused, partly at least, by analogical extension, i.e. modification of form on the basis of analogy with existing and widely used patterns. Thus, the three homonyms resulting from abbreviation of three different words, van 'a large covered vehicle', 'a railway carriage', the short for caravan (by aphesis1); van 'the front of an army', the short of vanguard which in its turn is a clipping of the French word avant-garde; and van -- a lawn tennis term, the short for advantage, all sound quite like English words. Cf. ban n and v, can, fan, man, ran (Past Tense of run), tan, etc.

Shortening of spoken words or curtailment consists in the reduction of a word to one of its parts (whether or not this part has previously been a morpheme), as a result of which the new form acquires some linguistic value of its own.

The part retained does not change phonetically, hence the necessity of spelling changes in some of the examples above (dub:: double, mike :: microphone, etc.).

The change is not only quantitative: a curtailed word 2 is not merely a word that has lost its initial, middle or final part. Nor is it possible to treat shortening as just using a part for the whole as Hackett suggests, because a shortened word is always in some way different from its prototype in meaning and usage. Moreover, every kind of shortening differs' from derivation, composition and conversion in being not a new arrangement of existing morphemes, but often a source of new ones.

Shortening may be regarded as a type of root creation because the resulting new morphemes are capable of being used as free forms and combine with bound forms. They can take functional suffixes: "Refs Warning Works Magic" (the title of a newspaper article about a football match where the referee called both teams together and lectured them on rough play). Cf. Sing. -- bike, bod, 1 PI. -- bikes, bodes, Inf. -- to vac, 2 Part. I -- vacking, Past Tense and Part. II -- vacked. They also serve as basis for further word-formation: fancy n (from fantasy), fancy v, fancier n, fanciful adj, fancifully adv, fancifulness n, fancy-ball n, fancy-dress n, fancy-work n, etc.

It is interesting in this connection to compare the morphemes “tele” in television and telecast. They are homonymous but not identical. Tele- in television is derived from “Grtele far”, it is a combining form used to coin many special terms denoting instruments and processes which produce or record results at a distance, such as telecommunication, telemechanics, telepathy, telephone, telescope and television itself. Tele- in telecast does not mean 'far', it is a new development -- the shortened variant of television rendering a special new notion. This becomes obvious from the following simple transformations: television - vision at a distance, tele(broad)"cast HO a broadcast at a distance,3 tele (broad) cast a television broadcast. In this new capacity tele- enters many combinations: telefilm, tele-prompter (an electronic device that slowly unrolls the speaker's text, in large print out of sight of the audience), televiewer 'one who uses a television set', telestar (Anglo-American satellite used as television relay station).

The correlation of a curtailed word with its prototype is of great interest. Two possible developments should be noted:

1. The curtailed form may be regarded as a variant or a synonym differing from the full form quantitatively, stylistically and sometimes emotionally, the prototype being stylistically and emotionally neutral, e. g. doc :: doctor; exam :: examination. Also in proper names: Becky:: Rebecca, Frisco :: San Francisco, Japs :: the Japanese. The missing part can at all times be supplied by the listener, so that the connection between the prototype and the short form is not lost. The relationship between the prototype and the curtailment belongs in this case to the present-day vocabulary system and forms a relevant feature for synchronistic analysis. Much yet remains to be done in studying the complex relations between the prototype and the clipping, as it is not clear when one should consider them two separate synonymous words and when they are variants of the same word.

2. In the opposite extreme case the connection can be established only etytnologically. The denotative or lexico-grammatical meaning, or both, may have changed so much that the clipping becomes a separate word. Consequently a pair of etymological doublets1 comes into being. Cf. chap:: chapmen 'a peddlers', fan 'an enthusiastic devotee' :: fanatic, fancy :: fantasy, miss -.-.mistress. A speaker who calls himself a football fan would probably be offended at being called a fanatic. A fanatic is understood to have unreasonable and exaggerated beliefs and opinions that make him socially dangerous, whereas a fan is a harmless devotee of a specified amusement. The relationship between curtailed forms and prototypes in this second group is irrelevant to the present-day vocabulary system, and is a matter of historic, i. e. diachronistic study.

In both types the clipped forms (doc, exam, chap, fan, etc.) exist in the language alongside their respective prototypes. The difference, however, is that whereas words belonging to the first group can be replaced by their prototypes and show in this way a certain degree of interchangeability, the doublets are never equivalent lexically as there are no contexts where the prototype can replace the shortened word without a change of meaning.

The possibility of substitution in case of variants may be shown by the following example: if a newspaper article about a certain musician2 is entitled "The Boss of the Tenor Sax", there is nothing very unusual in substituting saxophone for sax ("The Boss of the Tenor Saxophone"). The prototype is stylistically neutral and therefore it can stand for the curtailed word. A similar example is furnished by the following heading of a brief newspaper note about the prescription of eyeglasses for racing horses in Chicago. It runs as follows: "Racehorses Are Fitted with Specs". The substitution of spectacles for specs would make the heading a little less lively but not unacceptable.

This substitution, as a rule, can go only one way. It would be, for instance, impossible to use mug for magazine in the following passage of literary criticism: The public he [Ch. Dickens] wrote for was largely a new public brought to consciousness by the industrial revolution, a public for which magazine proprietors had not catered before 1832... (W. ALLEN) The specific stylistic character of the clipped form greatly limits the possibilities of usage.

The semantic status of the group of variants (or synonyms) and that of the group of doublets is also different. Curtailed words of the first group (variants) render one of the possible meanings of the prototype creating by this very novelty a greater expressiveness, a colloquial or slangy shade and often emotional coloring as well. The following extract will illustrate this coloring: "Still, I suppose you want to find your room. I wonder where they've put you. Half a mo -- /'// come down and look on the board. You go and make the co//, Con" she called back as she came downstairs, "1 shan't be a jiff." Everything with her was an abbreviation. Striking a match by the notice board, she searched for the number of my room. "Presuming the Ass Mat's remembered" "The who?" "Assistant Matron, old Fanny Harriman..." (M. DICKENS)

It is typical of the curtailed words to render only one of the secondary meanings of a polysemantic word. For instance the verb double may mean 'to multiply by two', 'to increase twofold', 'to amount to twice as much'; when used by musicians it means 'to add the same note in a higher or a lower octave'. In a military context the meaning is 'to move in double time or run'. As a nautical term it is synonymous to the expression 'to get round headland', etc. Dub, on the contrary, renders only one of the specific meanings (see p. 110).

The curtailed words belonging to this type are mostly mono-semantic as, for example, lab, exam, and fan. Also they are often homonymous: compare van and vac as treated above, also gym for gymnastics and gym for gymnasium, or vet for veteran and veterinary. Most of these by conversion produce verbs: to phone, to vac, to vet, etc., in which the semantic relationship with the prototype remains quite clear.

Between the two groups of well-defined extreme cases, namely variants or synonyms and doublets, there exist numerous intermediate cases, where the classification is difficult. The appearance of a more complex semantic structure in a word is a step towards its acquiring greater independence and thus becoming not a variant but a doublet of the prototype. This intermediate state is illustrated by the word polio which means not only the illness but also a person suffering from poliomyelitis, although the phrases a polio case or a polio victim are more often used.

The second extreme group, the etymological doublets, may develop semantic structures of their own. Very complex semantic cases like fancy with its many meanings and high valiancy are nevertheless rare.

It has been specified in the definition of the process that the clipped part is not always a complete morpheme, so that the division is only occasionally correlated with the division into immediate constituents. For instance, in phone for telephone and photo for photograph the remaining parts are complete morphemes occurring in other words. On the other hand in ec or eco (from economics) the morphological structure of the prototype is disregarded. All linguists agree that most often it is either the first or the stressed part of the word that remains to represent the whole. An interesting and convincing explanation for this is offered by M. M. Segal, who quotes the results of several experimental investigations dealing with informal! Vine parts of words. These experiments carried out by psychologists have proved very definitely that the initial components of words are imprinted in the mind and memory more readily than the final parts. The signaling value of the first stressed syllable, especially when it is at the same time the root syllable, is naturally much higher than that of the unstressed final syllables with their reduced vowel sounds.

As a rule, but not necessarily, clipping follows the syllabic principle of word division, e. g. pep (si.) 'vigour', 'spirit' from pepper, or plane from aero plane. In other instances it may be quite an arbitrary part of the prototype, e.g. prep (school.) 'Homework' is from preparation.

Unlike conversion, shortening produces new words in the same part of speech. The bulk of curtailed words is constituted by nouns, Verbs are hardly ever shortened in present-day English, Rev from revolve and tab from tabulate may be considered exceptions. Such clipped verbs as do occur are in fact converted nouns. Consequently the verbs to perm, to phone, to taxi, to vac, to vet and many others are not curtailed words diachronically hut may be regarded as such by right of structure, from the synchronic point of view. As to the verbs to pent, to mend, to tend and a few others, they were actually coined as curtailed words but not at the present stage of language development.

Shortened adjectives are very few and mostly reveal a combined effect of shortening and suffixation, e. g. comfy '.: comfortable, dilly :: delightful, imposes :: impossible, muzzy :: miserable, which occur in schoolgirl slang. As an example of a shortened interjection Shun! :: attention, the word of command may be mentioned,

Various classifications of shortened words have been or may he offered. The generally accepted one is that based on the position of the clipped part. According to whether it is the final, initial or middle part of the word that is cut off we distinguish final clipping (or apocopate),2 initial clipping (or aphesis) 3 and medial clipping (or syncope) Jespersen ,Otto. Growth and Structure of the English Language. Oxford, 1982 pp.246-249


1. Final clipping in which the beginning of the prototype is retained, is practically the rule, and forms the bulk of the class: e. g. ad, advert :: advertisement, coke :: coca-cola, ed -.-.'editor, -fab :; fabulous, gym :: gymnastics or gymnasium, lab :; laboratory, mac :: mackintosh, vegs :: vegetables and many others.

2. Initial-clipped words retaining the final part of the prototype .are less numerous but much more firmly established as separate lexical units with a meaning very different from that of the prototype and stylistically neutral doublets, e. g. cute adj, n (Am) :: acute, fend v :: defend, mend v :: amend, story n :: history, sport n :: disport, tend v :: attend. Cases like cello:: violoncello and phone :: telephone where the curtailed words are stylistically synonyms or even variants of their respective prototypes are very rare. Neologisms are few: e. g. chute:: parachute. It is in this group that the process of assimilation of loan words takes place.

Final and initial clipping may be combined and result in curtailed words with the middle part of the prototype retained. These are few and definitely colloquial: e. g. flu :: influenza, frig ox fridge :: refrigerator, tec :: detective. It is worthy of note that what is retained is the stressed syllable of the prototype.

3. Curtailed words with the middle part of the word left out are equally few. They may be further subdivided into two groups: (a) words with a final-clipped stem retaining the functional morpheme: math:: mathematics, specs :: spectacles; (b) contractions due to a gradual process of elision under the influence of rhythm and context. Thus fancy:: fantasy, ma'am :: madam may be regarded as accelerated forms.

It is also possible to approach shortened words on the basis of the structure characterizing the prototype. Then the two mutually exclusive groups are cases correlated with words and those correlated with phrases. The length of the word giving rise to a shortening might result from its being a derivative, a compound or a borrowing. The observation of language material, however, can furnish hardly any examples of the second type (compounds), all the word prototypes being derivatives, either native or borrowed, as is shown by all the examples quoted in the above paragraphs.

The few exceptions are exemplified by tarmac, a technical term for tar-macadam, a road surface of crushed stone and tar originally named after the inventor (J. L. Mc Adam, d. 1836); also cabbie for cabman. But then -man in such cases is most often a semi-affix, not a free form, and, besides, the process of shortening is here combined with derivation as in mightier for nightdress.

The group we have opposed to the curtailed forms of words is based on clipped phrases, chiefly set expressions. These differ severable from word clippings as they result from a combined effect of curtailment, ellipsis and substantiation.

E11ipsis is defined as the omission of a word or words considered essential for grammatical completeness but not for the conveyance of the intended lexical meaning, as in the following example: Police summonses are being served in an effort to stop the big sit down planned for September 17 ("Daily Worker"), where sit-down stands for sit down demonstration, S. Ullmann following Broal emphasizes the social causes for these. Professional and other communities with a specialized sphere of common interests are the ideal setting for ellipsis. Open on for open fire on, and put to sea for put ship to sea are of wartime and navy origin, and bill for bill of exchange comes from business circles; in a newspaper office daily paper and weekly paper were quite naturally shortened to daily and weekly. It is clear from the above examples that unlike other types of shortening, ellipsis always results in a change of lexico-gravimetrical meaning, and therefore the new word belongs to a different part of speech. Various other processes are often interwoven with ellipsis. For instance: finals for final examinations are a case of ellipsis combined with substantiation of the first element, whereas prelims for preliminary examinations results from ellipsis, substantivation and clipping. Cf. also modes (from Modern jazz). Other examples of the same complex type are perm :: permanent wave, pop :: popular music,2 prom :: promenade concert, i. e. a concert at which at least part of the audience is not seated and can walk about, pub :: public house --an inn or tavern, taxi :: taxi-cab, itself formed from taximeter-cab. Inside this group a subgroup with prefixed derivatives as first elements of prototype phrases can do distinguished, e. g. co-ed 'a girl student at a co-educational institution', co-op 'co-operative store or society', non-com 'a noncommissioned officer', prefab 'a prefabricated house or structure'; to prefabricate means 'to manufacture component parts of buildings prior to their assembly on a site'.

It has already been mentioned that curtailed words from compounds are few; cases of curtailment combined with composition set off against phrasal prototypes are slightly more numerous, e. g. ad-lib v 'to speak without notes or preparation' from the Latin phrase add labium meaning 'at pleasure'; sub chaser n from submarine chaser. A curious derivational compound with a clipping for one of its stems is the word teen-ager 'a person between 13 and 19', i. e. 'a person in his or her teens'. The-jocular and ironical name Lib-Labs (Liberal and Labor Party members) illustrates clipping, composition and ellipsis and imitation of reduplication all in one word.

Among these formations there is a specific group that has attracted special attention of several authors and was even given several different names: blends, bleu dings, fusions airport an tea words. The last term is due to Lewis Carroll, the author of "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass". One of the most linguistically conscious writers, he made a special technique of using blends coined by himself, such as chortle v < chuckle + snort, missy adj < miserable -j- flimsy, galumph v < gallop -j- triumph, slither adj < slimy -\- lithe.1 Humpty Dumpy explaining these words to Alice says: "You see it's like a portmanteau -- there are two meanings packed up into one word." The process of formation is also called telescoping because the words seem to slide into one another like sections of a telescope.

Compare also snob which may have been originally an abbreviation for sine nobilities, written after a name in the registry of fashionable English schools to indicate that the bearer of the name did not belong to nobility. One of the most recent examples is bit, the fundamental unit of information, which is short for binary digit.

The analysis into immediate constituents is helpful in so far as it permits the definition of a blend as a word with the first constituent represented by a stem whose final part may be missing, and the second constituent by a stem of which the initial part is missing. The second constituent when used in a series of similar blends may turn into a suffix. A new suffix on is, for instance, well under way in such terms as nylon, rayon, salon, formed from the final element of cotton.

Depending upon the prototype phrases with which they can be correlated two types of blends can be distinguished. One may be termed additive, the second restrictive. Both involve the sliding together not only of sound but of meaning as well. Yet the semantic relations who are at work are different. The first, i.e. additive type is transformable into a phrase consisting of the respective complete stems combined by the conjunction and: e.g. smog < smoke and fog 'a mixture of smoke and fog1. The element may be synonymous, belong to the same semantic field or at least "be members of the same lexico-grammatical class of words: (smoke) + (fog) > smog; cf. also a new coinage amaze [ smog + haze: A Weath er Bureau official described the condition as a kind of smog-like haze. "Call it amaze," he said.1 Pakistan was made up of elements taken from the names of the five western provinces: the initials of Panjab, Afghanis, Kashmir, and Singh, and the final part of Baluchistan. Other examples are: brunch breakfast and lunch; transceiver transmitter and receiver, Niffles - Niagara Falls.

The restrictive type is transformable into an attributive phrase, where the first element serves as modifier of the second: cinematographic panorama Cinerama. Other examples are: positron < positive electron; telecast < television broadcast. An interesting variation of the same type is presented by cases of superposition, formed by pairs of words having similar clusters of sounds, which seem to provoke blending, e.g. a motel < motorists' hotel: the element -ot- is present in both parts of the prototype. Further examples are: shampoo < sham bamboo (imitation bamboo); egomaniac < atom maniac; language<slang + language, warphan - war orphan. Blends, although not very numerous altogether, seem to be on the rise, especially in terminology and also in trade advertisements.

Curtailed words arise in various types of colloquial speech, and have for the most part a pronounced stylistic coloring as long as their connection with the prototype is alive, so that they remain synonyms. When the connection with the prototype is lost, the curtailed word may become stylistically neutral: e. g. brig, cab, cello, and pram. Stylistically colored shortened words may belong to any variety of colloquial style. They are especially numerous in various branches of slang: school slang, service slang, sport slang, newspaper slang, etc. Familiar colloquial style gives such examples as bobby, cabbie, mac, and max from maximum, movies. Nursery words are often clipped: grand, granny, hanky from handkerchief, ma, nigh tie from nightdress, pinkie from pinafore. Stylistic peculiarity often goes hand in hand with emotional coloring as is revealed in the above diminutives. School and college slang, on the other hand, reveal some sort of reckless if not ironical attitude to the things named: caf from cafeteria 'self-service restaurant', digs from diggings 'lodgings', ec, eco from economics, home ecs, lab, math's, prelims, prep, prof, trig, undergrad, vac, varsity. Service slang is very rich in clipped words; some of them penetrate the familiar colloquial style. A few examples are: demob from demobilize, divvy n from civilian, op n from operator, non-com n from non-combatant, corps n from corporal, serge n from sergeant.

The only types of clippings that belong to bookish style are the poetical contractions, such as e'en, e'er, ne'er, o'er


Because of the ever closer connection between the oral and the written forms of the language it is sometimes difficult to differentiate clippings coined in oral speech from graphical abbreviations. The latter often pass into oral speech and become widely used in conversation.

During World War I and later the custom became very popular not only in English-speaking countries, but in other parts of the world as well, to call countries, governmental, social, military, industrial and trade organizations and officials not by their full titles but by initial abbreviations derived from writing: the USSR, the U. N., the U. N. O. Such words formed from the initial letter or letters of each of the successive parts or major parts of a compound term are called acronyms. Two possible types of orthoepic correlation between written and spoken forms should be noted:

1. If the abbreviated written form can be read as though it were an ordinary English word it will be read like one. Many examples are furnished by political and technical vocabulary. U. N. E. S. C. O., also Unesco [ju:'neskou] -- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization', U. N. O., also Una ['ju:nou] -- United Nations Organization; U. N. R. R. A., also Unrra [an'ra:] -- United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, etc. A few recent technical terms may also be mentioned to illustrate this type such as jato, laser, maser and a more than twenty years old radar. JATO or jato means' jet-assisted take-off. Laser stands for light amplification by stimulated emission radiation; maser for micro-wave amplification and stimulated emission radiation; l radar for radio detection and ranging denotes a system for ascertaining direction and ranging of aircraft, ships, coasts and other objects by means of the electro-magnetic waves which they reflect. One more military term might be added: sten fgun) as the name for a light weight machine gun derived from the initials of the inventors' surnames, Shepherd and Turpin + -en for England. Words belonging to this group are often isolated from the prototypes.

2. The opposite subgroup consists of initial abbreviations with the alphabetic reading retained. They also retain correlation with prototypes. The examples are well-known: B. B. C. ['bi:'bi:'si:] -- the British Broadcasting Corporation; G. I. ['djii'aij -- for Government Issue, a widely spread metonymical name for American soldiers on the items of whose uniforms these letters are stamped. The last abbreviation was originally an Americanism but has been firmly established in British English as well. M. P. ['em 'pi:] is mostly used as an initial abbreviation for Member of Parliament, also military police, whereas P. M. stands for Prime Minister. These abbreviations are freely used in colloquial speech as seen from the following extract, in which C. P. Snow describes the House of Commons gossip: They were swapping promises to speak for one another: one was bragging how two senior Ministers were "in the bag" to speak for him. Rigger was safe, someone said, he'd give a hand. "What has the P. M. got in mind for Roger when we come back?" The familiar colloquial quality of the context is very definitely marked by the set expressions: in the bag, give a hand, get in mind, etc.

Other examples of initial abbreviations with the alphabetical reading retained are: S.O.S. ['es 'ou 'es] -- Save Our Souls, a wireless code-signal of extreme distress, also figuratively, any despairing cry for help; T . V '. Or TV ['ti: 'vi:l -- television; Y. C. L. ['wai 'si: 'el] -- the Young Communist League. The names of English letters seem to favor this type of abbreviation.

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