Definitions

muttonhead

Clipping (morphology)

In linguistics, clipping is the word formation process which consists in the reduction of a word to one of its parts (Marchand:1969). Clipping is also known as "truncation" or "shortening."

According to Marchand (1969), clippings are not coined as words belonging to the standard vocabulary of a language. They originate as terms of a special group like schools, army, police, the medical profession, etc., in the intimacy of a milieu where a hint is sufficient to indicate the whole. For example, in school slang originated exam(ination), math(ematic), lab(oratory), and spec(ulation), tick(et = credit) originated in stock-exchange slang, whereas vet(eran), cap(tain), are army slang. While clipping terms of some influential groups can pass into common usage, becoming part of Standard English, clippings of a socially unimportant class or group will remain group slang.

Clipping mainly consists of the following types:

  1. Back clipping
  2. Fore-clipping
  3. Middle clipping
  4. Complex clipping

Back clipping

Back clipping or apocopation is the most common type, in which the beginning is retained. The unclipped original may be either a simple or a composite. Examples are: ad (advertisement), cable (cablegram), doc (doctor), exam (examination), gas (gasoline), math (mathematics), memo (memorandum), gym (gymnastics, gymnasium) mutt (muttonhead), pub (public house), pop (popular concert), trad (traditional jazz), fax (facsimile).

Fore-clipping

Fore-clipping or aphaeresis retains the final part. Examples are: phone (telephone), varsity (university), chute (parachute), coon (racoon), gator (alligator), pike (turnpike).

Middle clipping

In middle clipping or syncope, the middle of the word is retained. Examples are: flu (influenza), tec (detective), polly (apollinaris), jams (pyjamas), shrink (head-shrinker).

Complex clipping

Clipped forms are also used in compounds. One part of the original compound most often remains intact. Examples are: cablegram (cable telegram), op art (optical art), org-man (organization man), linocut (linoleum cut). Sometimes both halves of a compound are clipped as in navicert (navigation certificate). In these cases it is difficult to know whether the resultant formation should be treated as a clipping or as a blend, for the border between the two types is not always clear. According to Bauer (1983), the easiest way to draw the distinction is to say that those forms which retain compound stress are clipped compounds, whereas those that take simple word stress are not. By this criterion bodbiz, Chicom, Comsymp, Intelsat, midcult, pro-am, sci-fi, and sitcom are all compounds made of clippings.

See also

References

  • Hans Marchand(1969). The Categories and Types of Present-Day English Word-formation. München: C.H.Beck'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung.
  • Laurie Bauer (1983). English Word-Formation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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