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An interesting pattern revealing the influence of extra-linguisticfactors on word-formation and vocabulary development are such compounds as camp-in, ride-in, teach-in, work-in and the like. “The Barn-hart Dictionary of New English” treats the second element as a combining form of the adverb in and connects the original appearance of this morpho-semantic pattern with the civil-rights movement of the 60s. It was used to nominate such public demonstrations of protest as riding in segregated buses (ride-in), praying in segregated churches (kneel-in), bathing in segregated swimming pools (swim-in).

The pattern is structurally similar to an older type of compounds, such as breakdown, feedback or lockout but differs from them semantically including as its semantic invariant the meaning of public protest.

Somewhat later the word teach-in appeared. The name was used for long meetings, seminars or sessions held at universities for the purpose of expressing criticism on important political issues and discussing them. Then any form of seminar patterned on the university teach-ins was also called by this term. And similar terms were coined for other cases of staging public protest. E. g. lie-in and die-in when blocking traffic.

The third stage in the development of this pattern proved to be an extension to any kind of gathering of hippies, flower children and other groups of young people: laugh-ins, love-ins, sing-ins. A still further generalisation of meaning may be observed in the compound call-in and its American version phone-in ‘period of time on radio or television programme during which questions, statements, etc. from the public are broadcast’, big sitdown planned for September 17 ("Daily Worker"), where sitdown stands for sitdown demonstration.


St. Ullmann follows M. Bréal in emphasising the social causes for these. Professional and other communities with a specialised ‘sphere of common interests are the ideal setting for ellipsis. Open on for open fire on, and put to sea for put ship to sea are of wartime and navy origin, and bill for bill of exchange comes from business circles; in a newspaper office daily paper and weekly paper were quite naturally shortened to daily and weekly.1 It is clear from the above examples that unlike other types of shortening, ellipsis always results in a change of lexico-grammatical meaning, and therefore the new word belongs to a different part of speech. Various other processes are often interwoven with ellipsis. For instance: finals for final examinations is a case of ellipsis combined with substantivation of the first element, whereas prelims for preliminary examinations results from ellipsis, substantivation and clipping. Other examples of the same complex type are perm : : permanent wave; pop : : popular music;2 prom : : promenade concert, i.e. ‘a concert at which at least part of the audience is not seated and can walk about’; pub : : public house ‘an inn or tavern’; taxi : : taxicab, itself formed from taximeter-cab. Inside this group a subgroup with prefixed derivatives as first elements of prototype phrases can be distinguished, e. g. coed ‘a girl student at a coeducational institution’, prefab ‘a prefabricated house or structure’ (to prefabricate means ‘to manufacture component parts of buildings prior to their assembly on a site’).

Curtailed words arise in various types of colloquial speech and have for the most part a pronounced stylistic colouring as long as their connection with the prototype is alive, so that they remain synonyms. E. g.: They present the tops in pops. When the connection with the prototype is lost, the curtailed word may become stylistically neutral, e. g. brig, cab, cello, pram. Stylistically coloured shortened words may belong to any variety of colloquial style. They are especially numerous in various branches of slang: school slang, service slang, sport slang, newspaper slang, etc. Familiar colloquial style gives such examples as bobby, cabbie, mac, maxi, mini, movies. Nursery words are often clipped: gran, granny; hanky from handkerchief; ma from mama; nightie from nightdress; pinnie from pinafore. Stylistic peculiarity often goes hand in hand with emotional colouring as is revealed in the above diminutives. School and college slang, on the other hand, reveal some sort of reckless if not ironical attitude to the things named: caf from cafeteria ‘self-service restaurant’, digs from diggings ‘lodgings’, ec, eco from economics, home ecs, lab, maths, prelims, prep, prof, trig, undergrad, vac, varsity. Service slang is very rich in clipped words, some of them penetrate the familiar colloquial style. A few examples are: demob v from demobilise; civvy n from civilian, op n from operator; non-com n from non-combatant; corp n from corporal; sarge n from sergeant.

1 See: Ullmann St. The Principles of Semantics, p.p. 116, 239.

2 Often used in such combinations as pop art, pop singer, pop song.

The only type of clippings that belong to bookish style are the poetical contractions such as e'en, e'er, ne'er, o'er.


It has already been mentioned that curtailed words from compounds are few; cases of curtailment combined with composition set off against phrasal prototypes are slightly more numerous, e. g. ad-lib v ‘to speak without notes or preparation’ from the Latin phrase ad libitum meaning ‘at pleasure’; subchaser n from submarine chaser. A curious derivational compound with a clipping for one of its stems is the word teen-ager (see p. 35). The jocular and ironical name Lib-Labs (Liberal Labour MP’s, i.e. a particular group) illustrates clipping, composition and ellipsis and imitation of reduplication all in one word.

Among these formations there is a specific group that has attracted special attention of several authors and was even given several different names: blends, blendings, fusions or portmanteau words. The last term is due to Lewis Carroll, the author of “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass”. One of the most linguistically conscious writers, he made a special technique of using blends coined by himself, such as chortle v <chuckle+snort; mimsy a<miserable+flimsy; galumph v<gallop+triumph; slithy a< slimy+lithe.1 Humpty Dumpty explaining these words to Alice says “You see it’s like a portmanteau — there are two meanings packed up into one word.” The process of formation is also called telescoping, because the words seem to slide into one another like sections of a telescope. Blends may be defined as formations that combine two words and include the letters or sounds they have in common as a connecting element.

Compare also snob which may have been originally an abbreviation for sine nobilitate, written after a name in the registry of fashionable English schools to indicate that the bearer of the name did not belong to nobility. One of the most recent examples is bit, the fundamental unit of information, which is short for binary digit. Other examples are: the already mentioned paratroops and the words bloodalyser and breathalyser for apparatuses making blood and breath tests, slimnastics (blend of slim and gymnastics).

The analysis into immediate constituents is helpful in so far as it permits the definition of a blend as a word with the first constituent represented by a stem whose final part may be missing, and the second constituent by a stem of which the initial part is missing. The second constituent when used in a series of similar blends may turn into a suffix. A new suffix -on is, for instance, well under way in such terms as nylon, rayon,-silon, formed from the final element of cotton.

Depending upon the prototype phrases with which they can be

1 Most of the coinages referred to occur in the poem called “Jabberwocky": “O frabjous day! Calloch! Callay!” He chortled in his joy.

correlated two types of blends can be distinguished. One may be termed additive, the second restrictive. Both involve the sliding together not only of sound but of meaning as well. Yet the semantic relations which are at work are different. The first, i.e. additive type, is transformable into a phrase consisting of the respective complete stems combined by the conjunction and, e. g. smog<smoke and fog ‘a mixture of smoke and fog’. The elements may be synonymous, belong to the same semantic field or at least be members of the same lexico-grammatical class of words: French+English> Frenglish; compare also the coinage smaze <smoke+haze. The word Pakistan was made up of elements taken from the names of the five western provinces: the initials of the words Panjab, Afghania, Kashmir and Singh, and the final part of Baluchistan. Other examples are: brunch<breakfast and lunch’, transceiver< transmitter and receiver; Niffles<Niagara Falls.

The restrictive type is transformable into an attributive phrase where the first element serves as modifier of the second: cine(matographic pano) rama>cinerama. Other examples are: medicare<medical care; positron<positive electron; telecast<television broadcast. An interesting variation of the same type is presented by cases of superposition, formed by pairs of words having similar clusters of sounds which seem to provoke blending, e. g. motel<motorists’ hotel: the element -ot- is present in both parts of the prototype. Further examples are: shamboo<sham bamboo (imitation bamboo); atomaniac<atom maniac; slanguage<slang +language; spam<spiced ham. Blends, although not very numerous altogether, seem to be on the rise, especially in terminology and also in trade advertisements.

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