Мизин Т.О. Курс лекцій з порівняльної лексикології англійської та української мов - файл n1.rtf

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6. Shortening

Word-building processes involve not only qualitative but also quantitative changes.

As a type of word-building shortening of spoken words also called clipping, curtailment or contraction, is recorded in the English language as far back as 15 century. It is another fairly productive way of vocabulary enrichment. The moving force behind it is economy of effort expressed in the trend towards monosyllabism that has always been characteristic of the English vocabulary.

Among shortenings distinction should be made between lexical abbreviations and clippings.

Lexical abbreviations are formed by a simultaneous operation of shortening and compounding.

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 in various spheres of human activity: RD for road, St for street on envelopes. English graphical abbreviations include rather numerous shortened variants of Latin and French words and word groups: a.m. (Lat. ante meridiem) – in the morning, before noon; p.m. (Lat. post meridiem) – in the afternoon; i.e. (Lat. id.est) – that is.

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. In reading many of them are substituted by the words and phrases that they represent: Mr (Mister), Oct. (October). It is natural that some graphical abbreviations should gradually penetrate into the sphere of oral intercourse : SOS (Save our Souls), MP (Member of Parliament).

The words formed from the initial letters of each of the successive or major parts of a compound term are called acronyms: the USA (United States of America), the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation), WASP (Women’s Air Force Service Pilots), США (Сполучені Штати Америки), ООН (Організація Об’єднаних Націй). They are used as words and if an abbreviation that has a wide currency is inconvenient for articulation, it is sometimes altered: W.R.N.S. (Women’s Royal Naval Service) was difficult to pronounce, so it was changed to WRENS.

There are two possible ways of reading acronyms in the English language. If the abbreviated written form can be read as though it were an ordinary English word it will be read like one: the NATO, the UNESCO, the UNO. The second way of reading acronyms is reading according to the ABC: BBC (the British Broadcasting Corporation), G.I. (Government Issue).

The second group of shortened words is represented by clippings. Clipping consists in the cutting off of one of several syllables of the word. It can be of three types: aphaeresis, syncope, apocope.

Aphaeresis is the omission of the initial part of the word. In many cases the shortened word differs from its source only stylistically: telephone – phone, omnibus – bus. Sometimes, however, the shortened word is somewhat modified in meaning or even altered: acute (sharp) – cute (pretty, clever), espy (see at a distance) – spy (to try to get secret information).

Some words owe their historical development to aphaeresis as for instance down from adown which in its turn developed from the Anglo-Saxon of dune (from the hill, from the down).

Many first names were shortened the aphaeresis way: Bess (Elisabeth), Becky (Rebecca) etc.

Syncope is the omission of an unstressed middle syllable: fantasy – fancy, courtesy – curtsy. Syncopated words used to be popular with poets (e’en – even, ne’er – never) because of purely rhythmical considerations. Modern poetry seldom if ever resorts to syncope. There are some graphical abbreviations of this type: Mr, Mrs, LP.

Apocope is the omission of the final part of the word. It is the most productive type of shortening. It is mostly through apocope that stylistic synonyms are coined. It is the colloquial layer that profits from apocope: gym (gymnasium), specs (spectacles), croc (crocodile). Proper names are also apocopated: Nick (Nicholas), Ed (Edward), Люда (Людмила). There are some words that are seldom if ever used in their unapocopated form (pub for public house, brig for brigantine).

Apocope and syncope are not characteristic of the Ukrainian language. Though apocope is used in Ukrainian slang: універ, лаби. Apocope is often used with compounding: генпрокуратура, міськрада. There are not so many words of this type in English: Internet, Eurobank.

Cases of a combination of several shortening devices are also possible: perambulator – pram (syncope + apocope); refrigerator – fridge (aphaeresis + apocope).

Shortening brings new words in the same part of speech. Most lexical units of this type are nouns. Shortened verbs like rev from revolve, tab from tabulate are very rare. Such verbs as to phone, to tot up (to sum up, total), to taxi, to vac come to look like clipped words but are in fact, denominal verbs made through conversion. Clipped adjectives are also few in number: comfortable – comfy, awkward – awk, impossible – imposs.

It is a well-known fact that in the course of time a good many slang clippings have found their way into standard English. Some of them occur both in spoken and written English, others keep only colloquial tinge.

The coining of clipped word-forms may result either in the ousting of one of the words from the vocabulary or in establishing a clear semantic differentiation between the two units. In a few cases the full words become new roots: chapman – chap, brandywine – brandy. But 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 meaning differing only in stylistic reference. The question naturally arises whether the shortened and original forms should be considered separate words. Though it is obvious that in the case of semantic difference between a shortened unit and a longer one from which it is derived they can be termed as two distinct words: cabriolet – cab. Some linguists hold the view that as the two units 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. Other linguists contend that even when the original word and the shortened form are generally used with some difference in style, they are both to be recognised 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 should be pointed out.

- Words built by affixation, for example, are of a more complex character both structurally and semantically. Shortened words are structurally simple words and in most cases have the same lexical meaning as longer words from which they are derived.

- 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.

Lexical abbreviations and clipped words possess some peculiarities. They are the following:

- When performing syntactical functions of ordinary words they take on grammatical inflections: exams, MPs.

- They may be used with articles: a bike, the BBC.

- They may be combined with derivational affixes and used in compounding: M.Pess (woman – member of Parliament), hanky from handkerchief

- Clipped words are characteristic of colloquial speech, lexical abbreviations are used in written speech.
7. Back Formation
Back formation or back derivation is a term of diachronistic linguistics. It implies the inferring of a short word from a long one. If we take, for example, the word speaker we reasonably connect it with the verb to speak. The existence of a derivative speaker suggests that the basic word speak also exists. Now, if speaker is correlated to speak, then editor must have the basis, edit too. But historically speaking, things are different.

There are words in English which owe their origin to one part of a word being mistaken for some derivative suffix or more rarely a prefix. A word of this kind has often been supposed to imply the existence of a primary word from which it has been derived. Similarly, the new verb to burgle has been created from burglar, evidently through reinterpretation on the analogy to the lie from liar. Further examples of back formation are: to hush from husht, to pettifog from pettifogger, to audit from auditor, to peeve from peevish. These examples show that simple, derived words were formed from other root lexical units by means of splitting the root.

Back formation may be also based on the analogy of inflectional forms as testified by the singular nouns pea and cherry. Pea (Plural peas) is from ME pese < OE pise< Lat. pisa, Plural pesum. The ending s being the most frequent mark of the plural in English, English speakers thought that sweet peas(e) was a plural and turned peas(e)(soup into pea soup. Cherry is from OFr. cherise and the se was dropped for exactly the same reason.

At the present time back formation is applied intentionally. At the beginning of the 19th century to diddle appeared by means of back formation from the surname Jeremy Diddler (the character in J.Kenney’s work “Raising the Wind”. At the beginning of the 20th century the verb to maffick appeared under the influence of the spirit which was in London during Anglo-boerish war after the town Mafeking yielded.

Back formation is held due to the rules of the development of the English language. It is not by chance that such words as to beg, to peeve, to resurrect were formed on the analogy of the existing word-building pattern.
8. Blending
The term blending is used to designate the method of merging parts of words (not morphemes) into one new word. The result of it is a blend, also known as a portmanteau word. It was Lewis Carroll , the author of the well-known book “Alice in Wonderland”, who called such creations portmanteau words and described them as words into which two meanings are packed like in a portmanteau.

We always look for a way of saving time. This explains the growing popularity of blends. Why use two words if one will do? If, for example, you get up too late for breakfast and too early for lunch you can have brunch. If a state decides to execute a criminal with the aid of electricity it electrocutes him. A telegram sent by cable is a cablegram. The astronaut has a tool, a space hammer, which is known as spammer. News that is broadcast is a newscast. If фрукт is added to йогурт you will get фругурт.

Many blends are short-lived. A fair proportion has become established in the vocabulary. In most cases blends belong to the colloquial layer of the vocabulary sometimes bordering on slang: slanguage = slang + language, pollutician = pollute + politician.

The process when the final part of one word and the initial part of another coincide is called telescoping because the words seem to slide into one another like sections of a telescope: infanticipate = infant + anticipate.

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