The terms shortening (make or become shorter), contractions, truncations, and abbreviation (a shortened form of a word or phrase) are often used interchangeably.
Take for example the word advertisement it can be shortened (or abbreviated) in two ways
(1) advert (an advertisement) or (2) ad (an advertisement)
Another example, romantic comedy (A film or play that deals with love in a light, humorous way)
The two words are often shortened or contracted as romcom
(In film or television) a romantic comedy.
The word romcom is formed by joining the first syllable of each word: rom and com together. In linguistics this process of combining syllables or two existing words together is called blending. Examples of blend words are: brunch (br+unch) which is breakfast and lunch combined, camcorder (cam+corder) which is formed from camera and recorder; and escalator (escala+tor) from escalate and elevator.
When parts of words are omitted, with no loss in meaning, it is known as clipping
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, exam(ination), math(ematics), and lab(oratory) originated in school slang; spec(ulation) and tick(et = credit) in stock-exchange slang; and vet(eran) and cap(tain) in army slang.
The above in bold type are also examples of final clipping, or apocope, wherein the endings of a word are literally chopped off. Further examples are:
- photograph > photo
- English animation > Japanese アニメーション animēshon > アニメ anime
- street credential > street cred
- magazine > mag
When the initial letters, syllables or sounds are omitted from a word this is called apheresis
Also spelled apheresis. Adjective: aphetic. Also called ‘syllabic loss’ or ‘initial vowel loss’.
Common examples of aphaeresis include round (from around), specially (from especially), and spy (from espy). Note that the deleted initial sound is usually a vowel.
"Aphaeresis has given us a number of new words, like drawing-room (from withdrawing-room), fend (from defend; whence fender), sport (from disport), and stain (from distain). A number are aphetic in the narrow sense: pert (from now obsolete apert, going back ultimately to Latin appertus 'open'), peal (from appeal), mend (from amend), fray (from affray), the verb ply (from apply), the adjective live (from alive), spy (from espy), and tend (from both attend and intend). In the above cases, significant semantic development followed the aphaeresis, so that one does not normally connect in one's mind the shortened and the original longer forms."
(The Merriam-Webster New Book of Word Histories, 1991)
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