Abbreviation and other types of shortening in the aspect of their functions in Modern English language

Автор работы: Пользователь скрыл имя, 17 Мая 2013 в 18:06, дипломная работа

Краткое описание

The theme of my diploma work sounds as following: “Abbreviation and other types of shortening in the aspect of their functions in Modern English language”. The actuality of this work caused by several important points. It is safe to say that nowadays the shortening of the words is one of the main trends in the development of Modern English language, especially in its colloquial layer, which, in its turn at high degree is supported by constant development of modern informational technologies and simplification of speech with no loss of its informative content. So the significance of this work can be proved by the following reasons: a) Shortening of words is one of the developing branches of lexicology nowadays.


Introduction……………………………………………………………… 1

I. General definition of abbreviation…...…………………………....... 3

II. Main types of abbreviation……………………………..………….. 10
2.1. Shortening of spoken words ……………………………….....……. 10
2.2. Graphical abbreviations and acronyms ………………...…………...20
2.3. Abbreviations as the major type of shortenings ………..…………. 25

III. Secondary ways of shortening…………………………………….. 29
3.1. Blending of words ………………………………………………….. 29
3.2. Back formation ……………………………………………………... 30
3.3. Back formation as a source for shortening of words …………..….. 31

Conclusion ……………………………………………………………… 36

Bibliography ……………………………………………………………. 37

Вложенные файлы: 1 файл


— 77.19 Кб (Скачать файл)

It must be emphasized that initial abbreviation, no less than other types of shortening, retains the valiancy, i.e. the combining possibilities of the prototypes. The difference in distribution is conditioned only by a change of meaning (lexical or more rarely lexico-grammatical). Abbreviations receive the plural arid Possessive case inflexions: G. I.'s, M. P.'s, P.O. W.'s (from prisoner of war), also the verb paradigm: Okays, okayed, okaying. E.g. A hotel's no life for you... Why don't you come and P. G. with me? (A. WILSON) Here P. G. is an acronym for paying guest. Like all nouns they can be used attributively: BBC television, TV program, UN vote.

A specifically English word pattern absent in the Russian language must be described in connection with initial abbreviations in which the first element is a letter and the second a complete word. The examples are: A-bomb, A-terror, H-accident risk, H-blast, A-sub, If-test, where A stands for atomic or atomic bomb and H for hydrogen bomb. The pronunciation is alphabetic.

No stylistic or semantic generalization on this type seems possible, the examples being of different types. Alongside the examples of words in H- connected with nuclear weapons, there is the lady's H-bag (for handbag). Compare U standing for upper classes in such combinations as U-pronunciation, U-language (i.e. that of the upper classes). Non-U is its opposite. So Non-U speakers are those whose speech habits show that they do not belong to the upper classes. It will have been noted that all kinds of shortening are very productive in present-day English. They are especially numerous in colloquial speech, both familiar colloquial and professional slang. They display great combining activity and form bases for further word-formation and inflection However Henry Sweet and some other scientists say that these criteria are not characteristic of the majority of such units.

They consider the first component of such units to be a noun in the function of an attribute because in Modern English almost all parts of speech and even word-groups and sentences can be used in the function of an attribute, e.g. the then president (an adverb), out-of-the-way villages (a word-group), a devil-may-care speed (a sentence).

There are different semantic relations between the components of «stone wall» combinations. E.I. Chapnik classified them into the following groups:

1. time relations, e.g. evening paper,

2. space relations, e.g. top floor,

3. relations between the object and the material of which it is made, e.g. steel helmet,

4. cause relations, e.g. war orphan,

5. relations between a part and the whole, e.g. a crew member,

6. relations between the object and an action, e.g. arms production,

7. relations between the agent and an action e.g. government threat, price rise,

8. relations between the object and its designation, e.g. reception hall,

9. the first component denotes the head, organizer of the characterized object, e.g. Clinton government, Forsyte family,

10. the first component denotes the field of activity of the second component, e.g. language teacher, psychiatry doctor,

11. comparative relations, e.g. moon face,

12. qualitative relations, e.g. winter apples.



In the process of communication words and word-groups can be shortened. The causes of shortening can be linguistic and extra-linguistic. By extra-linguistic causes changes in the life of people are meant. In Modern English many new abbreviations, acronyms, initials, blends are formed because the tempo of life is increasing and it becomes necessary to give more and more information in the shortest possible time.

There are also linguistic causes of abbreviating words and word-groups, such as the demand of rhythm, which is satisfied in English by monosyllabic words. When borrowings from other languages are assimilated in English they are shortened. Here we have modification of form on the basis of analogy, e.g. the Latin borrowing «fanaticus» is shortened to «fan» on the analogy with native words: man, pan, tan etc.

There are two main types of shortenings: graphical and lexical.

Graphical abbreviations

Graphical abbreviations are the result of shortening of words and word-groups only in written speech while orally the corresponding full forms are used. They are used for the economy of space and effort in writing.

The oldest group of graphical abbreviations in English is of Latin origin. In Russian this type of abbreviation is not typical. In these abbreviations in the spelling Latin words are shortened, while orally the corresponding English equivalents are pronounced in the full form, e.g. for example (Latin exampli gratia), a.m. - in the morning (ante meridiem), No - number (numero), p.a. - a year (per annum), d - penny (dinarius), Ib - pound (libra), i.e. - that is (id est), etc.

Some graphical abbreviations of Latin origin have different English equivalents in different contexts, e.g. p.m. can be pronounced “in the afternoon” (post meridiem) and «after death» (post mortem), — there are also graphical abbreviations of native origin, where in the spelling we have abbreviations of words and word-groups of the corresponding English equivalents in the full form. We have several semantic groups of them:

a) days of the week, e.g. Mon - Monday, Tue – Tuesday, etc.

b) names of months, e.g. Apr - April, Aug – August, etc.

c) names of counties in UK, e.g. Yorks - Yorkshire, Berks –Berkshire, etc.

d) names of states in USA, e.g. Ala - Alabama, Alas – Alaska, etc.

e) names of address, e.g. Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr., etc.

f) military ranks, e.g. capt. -captain, col. - colonel, sgt - sergeant etc.

g) scientific degrees, e.g. B.A. - Bachelor of Arts, D.M. - Doctor of Medicine . (Sometimes in scientific degrees we have abbreviations of Latin origin, e.g., M.B. - Medicinae Baccalaurus).

h) units of time, length, weight, e.g. f. / ft -foot/feet, sec. - second, in. -inch, mg. - milligram etc. 4

The reading of some graphical abbreviations depends on the context, e.g. «m» can be read as: male, married, masculine, meter, mile, million, minute, can be read as long-playing, low pressure.

V Initial abbreviations

Initializes are the bordering case between graphical and lexical abbreviations. When they appear in the language, as a rule, to denote some new offices they are closer to graphical abbreviations because orally full forms are used, e.g. J.V. - joint venture. When they are used for some duration of time they acquire the shortened form of pronouncing and become closer to lexical abbreviations, e.g. BBC is as a rule pronounced in the shortened form.

In some cases the translation of initializes is next to impossible without using special dictionaries. Initializes are denoted in different ways. Very often they are expressed in the way they are pronounced in the language of their origin, e.g. ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand, United States) is given in Russian as AHЗУC, SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) was for a long time used in Russian as СОЛТ, now a translation variant is used. This type of initializes borrowed into other languages is preferable, e.g. UFO – HЛO, etc.

There are three types of initializes in English:

a) initialisms with alphabetical reading, such as UK, BUP, CND etc

b) initialisms which are read as if they are words, e.g. UNESCO, UNO, NATO etc.

c) initialisms which coincide with English words in their sound form, such initialisms are called acronyms, e.g. CLASS (Computer-based Laboratory for Automated School System). (Some scientists unite groups b) and c) into one group which they call acronyms.

Some initializes can form new words in which they act as root morphemes by different ways of word building:

a) affixation, e.g. AWA Lism, ex-rafer, ex- POW, to warfare, AID So phobia etc.

b) conversion, e.g. to raff, to fly IFR (Instrument Flight Rules), etc.

There are also compound-shortened words where the first component is an initial abbreviation with the alphabetical reading and the second one is a complete word, e.g. A-bomb. U -pronunciation, V -day some cases the first component is a complete word and the second T-component is an initial abbreviation with the alphabetical pronunciation, e.g. Three -Ds (Three dimensions) - Abbreviations of words.

Abbreviation of words consists in clipping a part of a word. As a result we get a new lexical unit where either the lexical meaning or the style is different form the full form of the word. In such cases as “fantasy” and “fancy”, “fence” and “defense” we have different lexical meanings. In such cases as “laboratory” and “lab”, we have different styles.

Abbreviation does not change the part-of- speech meaning, as we have it in the case of conversion or affixation, it produces words belonging to the same part of speech as the primary word. e.g. prof. is a noun and professor is also a noun. Mostly nouns undergo abbreviation, but we can also meet abbreviation of verbs. such as to rev from to revolve, to tab from to tabulate etc. But mostly abbreviated forms of verbs are formed by means of conversion from abbreviated nouns, e.g. to taxi, to vac etc. Adjectives can be abbreviated but they are mostly used in school slang and are combined with suffixation, e.g. comfy, dilly, mizzy etc. As rule pronouns, numerals, interjections, conjunctions are not abbreviated. The exceptions are: fif (fifteen), teen-ager, in one's teens (aphaeresis from numerals from 13 to 19).

Lexical abbreviations are classified according to the part of the word which is clipped. Mostly the end of the word is clipped, because the beginning of the word in most cases is the root and expresses the lexical meaning of the word. This type of abbreviation is called apocope. Here we can mention a group of words ending in «o», such as disco (discothèque), expo (exposition), intro (introduction) and many others. On the analogy with these words there developed in Modern English a number of words where «o» is added as a kind of a suffix to the shortened form of the word, e.g. combo (combination). In other cases the beginning of the word is clipped. In such cases we have aphaeresis, e.g. chute (parachute), varsity (university), copter (helicopter), muse (enthuse) etc. Sometimes the middle of the word is clipped, e.g. mart (market), fanzine (fan magazine) math (mathematics). Such abbreviations are called syncope. Sometimes we have a combination of apocope with aphaeresis, when the beginning and the end of the word are clipped, e.g. tec. (detective), van (avanguard) etc.

Sometimes shortening influences the spelling of the word, e.g. «c» can be substituted by «k» before «e» to preserve pronunciation, e.g. mike (microphone), Coke (coca-cola) etc. The same rule is observed in the following cases: fax (facsimile), tack (technical college), trunk (tranquilizer) etc. The final consonants in the shortened forms are substituted by letters characteristic of native English words.



III. Secondary ways of shortening




Blends are words formed from a word-group or two synonyms. In blends two ways of word-building are combined: abbreviation and composition. To form a blend we clip the end of the first component (apocope) and the beginning of the second component (aphaeresis). As a result we have a compound- shortened word. One of the first blends in English was the word «smog» from two synonyms: smoke and fog which means smoke mixed with fog. From the first component the beginning is taken, from the second one the end, «o» is common for both of them. Blends formed from two synonyms are: languange, to hustle, gasohol etc. Mostly blends are formed from a word-group, such as : acromania (acronym mania), cinemadict (cinema adict), chunnel (channel, canal), dramedy (drama comedy), detectifiction (detective fiction), faction (fact fiction) (fiction based on real facts), informecial (information commercial), Medicare ( medical care), magalog ( magazine catalogue) slimnastics (slimming gymnastics), sociolite (social elite), slanguist ( slang linguist) etc.




It is the way of word-building when a word is formed by dropping the final morpheme to form a new word. It is opposite to suffixation that is why it is called back formation. At first it appeared in the language as a result of misunderstanding the structure of a borrowed word. Prof. Yartseva explains this mistake by the influence of the whole system of the language on separate words. E.g. it is typical of English to form nouns denoting the agent of the action by adding the suffix -er to a verb stem (speak- speaker). So when the French word «beggar» was borrowed into English the final syllable «ar» was pronounced in the same way as the English -er and Englishmen formed the verb «to beg» by dropping the end of the noun. Other examples of back formation are: to accreditate (from accreditation), to bach (from bachelor), to collocate (from collocation), to enthuse (from enthusiasm), to compute (from computer), to emote (from emotion) to reminisce ( from reminiscence), to televise (from television) etc.

As we can notice in cases of back formation the part-of-speech meaning of the primary word is changed, verbs are formed from nouns.




The meaning of a word can change in the course of time. Changes of lexical meanings can be proved by comparing contexts of different times. Transfer of the meaning is called lexico-semantic word-building. In such cases the outer aspect of a word does not change.

The causes of semantic changes can be extra-linguistic and linguistic, e.g. the change of the lexical meaning of the noun «pen»  was due to extra-linguistic causes. Primarily « pen» comes back to the Latin word «penna» (a feather of a bird). As people wrote with goose pens the name was transferred to steel pens which were later on used for writing. Still later any instrument for writing was called « a pen».

On the other hand causes can be linguistic, e.g. the conflict of synonyms when a perfect synonym of a native word is borrowed from some other language one of them may specialize in its meaning, e.g. the noun «tide» in Old English was polysemantic and denoted «time», «season», «hour». When the French words «time», «season», and «hour» were borrowed into English they ousted the word «tide» in these meanings. It was specialized and now means «regular rise and fall of the sea caused by attraction of the moon». The meaning of a word can also change due to ellipsis, e.g. the word-group «a train of carriages» had the meaning of «a row of carriages», later on «of carriages» was dropped and the noun «train» changed its meaning, it is used now in the function and with the meaning of the whole word-group.

Semantic changes have been classified by different scientists. The most complete classification was suggested by a German scientist Herman Paul in his work «Prinzipien des Sprachgeschichte». It is based on the logical principle. We distinguishes two main ways where the semantic change is gradual (specialization and generalization), two momentary conscious semantic changes (metaphor and metonymy) and also secondary ways: gradual (elevation and degradation), momentary (hyperbole and litotes).


It is a gradual process when a word passes from a general sphere to some special sphere of communication, e.g. «case»  has a general meaning «circumstances in which a person or a thing is». It is specialized in its meaning when used in law (a law suit), in grammar (a form in the paradigm of a noun), in medicine (a patient, an illness). The difference between these meanings is revealed in the context.

The meaning of a word can specialize when it remains in the general usage. It happens in the case of the conflict between two absolute synonyms when one of them must specialize in its meaning to remain in the language, e.g. the native word (meat) had the meaning (food), this meaning is preserved in the compound «sweetmeats». The meaning «edible flesh» was formed when the word «food», its absolute synonym, won in the conflict of absolute synonyms (both words are native). The English verb «starve» was specialized in its meaning after the Scandinavian verb «die» was borrowed into English. «Die» became the general verb with this meaning because in English there were the noun «death» and the adjective «dead». «Starve» got the meaning «to die of hunger» meanings: in Russian we say, in English we use the verb «come» in this case. In English we use the verb «go» in the combinations: «to go by bus», «to go by train» etc. In Russian in these cases we use the verb.

The number of meanings does not correspond to the number of words; neither does the number of notions. Their distribution in relation to words is peculiar in every language. The Russian has two words for the English «man»: «мужчина» and «человек». In English, however, «man» cannot be applied to a female person. We say in Russian: In English we use the word «person» - «She is a good person». Development of lexical meanings in any language is influenced by the whole network of ties and relations between words and other aspects of the language. 5


The word «polysemy» means «plurality of meanings» it exists only in the language, not in speech. A word which has more than one meaning is called polysemantic.

Different meanings of a polysemantic word may come together due to the proximity of notions which they express. E.g. the word «blanket» has the following meanings: a woolen covering used on beds, a covering for keeping a horse warm, a covering of any kind (a blanket of snow), covering all or most cases used attributively, e.g. we can say «a blanket insurance policy».

There are some words in the language which are monosemantic, such as most terms (synonym, molecule, bronchitis), some pronouns (this, my, both), numerals.

There are two processes of the semantic development of a word: radiation and concatenation. In cases of radiation the primary meaning stands in the centre and the secondary meanings proceed out of it like rays. Each secondary meaning can be traced to the primary meaning. E.g. in the word «face» the primary meaning denotes «the front part of the human head» Connected with the front position the meanings: the front part of a watch, the front part of a building, the front part of a playing card was formed. Connected with the word «face» and it itself the meanings: expression of the face, outward appearance is formed.

In cases of concatenation secondary meanings of a word develop like a chain. In such cases it is difficult to trace some meanings to the primary one. E.g. in the word «crust» the primary meaning «hard outer part of bread» developed a secondary meaning «hard part of anything (a pie, a cake) », then the meaning «harder layer over soft snow» was developed, then «a sullen gloomy person», then «impudence» were developed. Here the last meanings have nothing to do with the primary ones. In such cases homonyms appear in the language. It is called the split of polysemy.

In most cases in the semantic development of a word both ways of semantic development are combined.


Homonyms are words different in meaning but identical in sound or spelling, or both in sound and spelling.

Homonyms can appear in the language not only as the result of the split of polysemy, but also as the result of leveling of grammar inflexions, when different parts of speech become identical in their outer aspect, e.g. (care from «caru» and «care» from «carried»). They can be also formed by means of conversion, e.g. (to slim) from «slim)). «(to water) from (water)». They can be formed with the help of the same suffix from the same stem, e.g. «reader» (a person who reads and a book for reading).

Homonyms can also appear in the language accidentally, when two words coincide in their development, e.g. two native words can coincide in their outer aspects: (to bean) from (beram) (to carry), and «bear» from (bera) (an animal). A native word and a borrowing can coincide in their outer aspects, e.g. «fair» from Latin (feria) and (fair) from native (fager) (blond). Two borrowings can coincide e.g. «base» from the French «base» (Latin basis) and «base» (low) from the Latin «bas» (Italian «basso»).

Homonyms can develop through shortening of different words, e.g. «cab» from «cabriolet», «cabbage», «cabin».

Walter Skeat classified homonyms according to their spelling and sound forms and he pointed out three groups: perfect homonyms that is words identical in sound and spelling, such as : «school»  - «косяк рыбы» and «школа» homographs, that is words with the same spelling but pronounced differently, e.g. «bow» -(bau) - «поклон» and (bou) - homophones that is words pronounced identically but spelled differently, e.g. «night» - «ночь» and «knight» - «рыцарь».

V.N. Comissarov in his dictionary of antonyms classified them into two groups: absolute or root antonyms (»Late» - «early») and derivational antonyms («to please» - «to displease»). Absolute antonyms have different roots and derivational antonyms have the same roots but different affixes. In most cases negative prefixes form antonyms (un-, dis-, non-). Sometimes they are formed by means of suffixes -ful and -less.

The number of antonyms with the suffixes full- and -less is not very large, and sometimes even if we have a word with one of these suffixes its antonym is formed not by substituting -full by less-, e.g. «successful» -» unsuccessful», «selfless» - «selfish». The same is true about antonyms with negative prefixes, e.g. «to man» is not an antonym of the word «to unman», «to disappoint» is not an antonym of the word «to appoint».

The difference between derivational and root antonyms is not only in their structure, but in semantics as well. Derivational antonyms express contradictory notions; one of them excludes the other, e.g. «active»-«inactive». Absolute antonyms express contrary notions. If some notions can be arranged in a group of more than two members, the most distant members of the group will be absolute antonyms, e.g. «ugly» , «plain», «good-looking», «pretty», «beautiful», the antonyms are «ugly» and «beautiful». 6

Информация о работе Abbreviation and other types of shortening in the aspect of their functions in Modern English language