Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

There are several words (mostly related to food) which are shortenings of their historical forms. For example, the cold treat ice cream was originally known as iced cream in the 1680s. The -ed ending dropped off in about 1744.

A similar example is skim milk, which derives from the term skimmed milk which is apparently still in use in the UK. Other examples are popcorn, wax paper and whip cream.

What is the name for the historical process in which the -ed ending is dropped? Language Log talked about the phonology of this phenomenon, referring to it as t/d-dropping, but they did not give a name to the process each word went through. I was thinking that abbreviation might work, but is there a specific term available?

share|improve this question
    
It could be, bastardization... –  Thursagen Aug 3 '11 at 8:13
3  
@Thursagen, I think your use of comma might qualify, while the change that OP describes does not resemble neither of the processes illustrated in en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_%28linguistics%29 (P.S. still it is not far from the sought term so it should be put as an answer, not as a comment on the question itself) –  Unreason Aug 3 '11 at 8:21
1  
FYI, whipped cream is still in use in the UK too. Not sure about waxed paper... –  Benjol Aug 4 '11 at 13:24
1  
@Benjol US still uses whipped cream too, but not everywhere –  simchona Aug 4 '11 at 18:35
3  
@Thursagen, I would have upvoted that comment if it weren't for that comma... –  Jim Aug 28 '11 at 3:37
add comment

2 Answers 2

up vote 28 down vote accepted

I don't think there is a specific term for the loss of -ed in these contexts. Rather, what you have is the interplay of a few different general trends.

The first factor is simply phonological. Iced cream, pronounced very deliberately, has a [stkr] cluster in the middle. In rapid speech, this is going to be reduced to [skr] anyway. The same is true of every other example you gave: if pronounced with the -ed, they contain difficult consonant clusters which are likely to be reduced in speech. This is known as elision.

The second factor is that English has a highly productive compounding process, which allows you to take any combination of two nouns and stick them together as a new lexical item. Once the phonological elision has taken place, it's immediately tempting to reanalyze the phonological string as a compound word rather than a noun phrase. So now ice cream is considered a single lexical item, and has the characteristic first-syllable stress of lexicalized compounds. This is a combination of reanalysis and compounding.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I do not know if there is more specific term (probably there is), but for now I can offer

  • morphological clipping, shortening or truncation
  • specifically it is back clipping or apocope

in hope that it will bring you closer to the specific term that deals with dropping of -ed specifically.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.