1. create new words with new meanings.

1. Introduction

The research
presented in this seminar paper provides an overview of the term clipping.
According to Bauer, “clipping refers to the
process whereby a lexeme (simplex or complex) is shortened, while retaining the
same meaning and still being a member of the same form class.”(1993: 233) Among
researchers and linguists it is an unresolved matter whether clipping should be
considered a word-formation at all, considering the fact that it does not always
create new words with new meanings. Nevertheless, clipping is certainly a word
shortening form that has been developing for centuries, and is continuing to do
so in numerous forms, which I will examine in the following pages. Firstly, I
will offer some background information, such as the emergence of clipping in
the 19th century and its rapid development. Then, in section 2, I
will analyse the classes of clipping, as well as its related forms. Lastly,
aspects of clipping and possible misunderstandings of shortened words will be

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2. Historical overview

Clipping as a process,
also known as “truncation” or “shortening”, first appeared in the late 19th,
20th and 21st century, but contracted forms have been
around since the ancient times. Used in written language rather than spoken,
they were not a type of word-formation, but abbreviations: INRI (Iesus
Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum), IMP. (imperator), COS. (consul). German linguist
Johann Christoph Adelung denoted in 1790 the first use of shortened forms in
the spoken language, while also claiming that such forms were usually used by
uneducated people. The appearance of technical terms caused the creation of
numerous short forms – the most popular of which were used in chemistry, like
symbols in the periodic table of elements (Steinhauer 2000). During the 20th
century, the longer, more complex words started to disappear and clipped forms took
charge, which motivated linguists to dig deeper into clipping as a
word-formation. Kreidler (1979 and 2000) and Cannon (1989) performed the most
famous analyses of clipping in English. When cutting off parts of a word, there
are no written regulations and to each word applies a different rule. Hence, it
is difficult to establish a typology that fits all and there are different
publications on the matter, as well as various forms of clipping.

3. Clipping and its forms

Unlike other
word-formations, clipping does not add affixes or gather morphemes, but quite
the contrary – it deletes certain parts of words. It also does not change
meaning or parts of speech. However, the short forms are pronounced as they are
written, which is not the case with purely graphic abbreviations. These
abbreviations are word shortenings but they do not belong to clipping, since
they are never pronounced in their short forms and therefore there is no
creation of new words: Mr. (Mister), sing. (singular). On the other hand, word
shortenings that do belong to clipping are acronyms and initialisms, which will
be discussed later on. The types of clipping are back clipping, fore-clipping,
middle clipping and complex clipping. To start with, back clipping is the most
common type that occurs when the beginning of the word, or original, is
retained whilst the end is cut off. Some examples include: ad(vertisement),
app(lication), exam(ination), lab(oratory), math(ematics). First names can also
be back clippings: Ben(edict), Ray(mond), Will(iam). It is also common to add a
suffix to a name to make it more affectionate: Benny, Charlie, Andy. Such hypocoristic
suffix can also be added to nouns such as Aussie (Australian), telly (television)
or movie (moving pictures). Used less frequently is fore-clipping, which
happens when the original is trimmed at the beginning and the end remains
unclipped: bot (robot), phone (telephone), net (Internet), uni (university),
plane (aeroplane). First names can also be fore-clipped, like Trix, Bella,
Dora. Possibly the rarest of all types is middle clipping – when the middle of
the word is kept but the beginning and the end are left out: flu (influenza),
fridge (refrigerator). Lastly, complex clipping is the trimming of a compound
word by mixing its first syllables: sci-fi (science fiction), sitcom (situation
comedy) grandma (grandmother). (URL-1). Even though the most frequently clipped
part of speech are nouns, adjectives can be shortened as well: bi(sexual) or
with hypocoristic suffix comfy (comfortable) and loony (lunatic).

As mentioned earlier, acronyms or
initialisms are clipping related forms. Acronyms are the most popular
abbreviations in modern languages. “Acronyms are words which are formed from
the first letters of other words, and which are pronounced as full words”
(URL-2). They usually consist of three letters taken from the original (FBI,
USA, GBP) but also more (YMCA, UNESCO) or less (UK). They are divided according
to their pronunciation: the alphabetic, letter-recitation type and the
orthoepic, letter-sounding type. Firstly, the alphabetic type is when in a
word, every letter is pronounced by itself: EFSF for English European Financial
Stability Facility, HIV for human immunodeficiency virus. Secondly, the
orthoepic type is when trimmed form is pronounced as a completely new, normal
word: NATO for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, laser for light
amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. This type is usually more
frequent and blended into modern language, resulting in people not being
knowledgeable about the real, original form of the word (like the fact that
AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). Sometimes both the
alphabetic and orthoepic pronunciations are possible, like with VIP – vi: ai
pi: and vip. There are also pronunciations that unite both types, like in
LSAT ?l sæt (Law School Aptitude Test). Acronyms are also frequently used in
electronical communication when both phrases and sentences become shortened,
such as LOL (laughing out loud) and OMG (oh my god). Hybrid forms of clipping
are those in which one syllable is connected with the subsequent three
initials: radar (RAdio Detection and Ranging) or syllables from different parts
of the words are combined: Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg). Another
hybrid form is when one letter stands for the first part of the word, while the
rest is left untouched: b-day (birthday), e-mail (electronic mail).

4. Aspects of clipping

Different groups of
people use different clipped forms. Therefore, to be able to understand each
other completely, they should belong to the same social group like police,
school, medical profession and so on. During the 80s the term yuppie (young
urban professional) appeared, followed by dinkie (double income no kids) and
more recently Fruppie (frustrated urban professional). These clippings all had
some sort of connection with the original word; however, it is not unusual for
shortenings to lose the link to their original, and simultaneously its original
meaning. This can cause difficulties in communication because of ambiguity. For
instance, sub can stand for submarine, substitute, subscription, subeditor or substitute
teacher. Nevertheless, since communication is generally based on context, the
meaning itself should not be too hard to comprehend. Sometimes clipped forms
are formed deliberately out of certain letters as to convey a message and
meaning via already existing word: CARE (Cooperative for American Remittances
to Europe). Big advantage of clipping is the fact that word shortenings can continue
being invented, and are doing so even in the shape of verbs, such as to blog, meaning
to maintain or add content to a blog.

 5. Conclusion

To summarize, clipped
forms of words have been around for centuries, but only recently have they
developed to such degree of them prije?i into common usage and being used on a
daily basis. Nouns like lab, math, uni, phone, flu, sci-fi and even proper
names like Charlie or Ben, are all examples of various different clipping classes,
which are being frequently used today. With the creation of new technologies
and inventions, more and more word shortenings are continuing to appear, aiming
to simplify the long and complex phrases. I believe this can have a positive
impact in the sense of easier and more coherent expressiveness, comprehensible
to a larger audience. However, the real meaning might disappear or end up being
forgotten, with the clipped forms taking over, as is the case with some
acronyms – how many people can actually say what UNESCO or laser stand for? Therefore,
as much as clipping simplifies our everyday language, it also impoverishes it.
While clipped forms can be extremely practical with their one-syllable words, further
development could result in an underdeveloped, “lazy” language, and so its
constant use should be put under control. 

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