SHORTENING AS A WAY OF WORD-FORMATION IN ADVERTISEMENTS

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УДК 821.111.08:811.111’38

M. Kuznetsov,

Ukrainian Academy of Printing,

Lviv

SHORTENING AS A WAY OF WORD-FORMATION IN ADVERTISEMENTS

The article is devoted to the ways of shortening in the English advertising as the most productive ones for the lexical completion in general. The modern pace of life demands from the print media to convey a great bulk of information as quickly as possible, saving the space written. The most popular methods of shortening from the advertising structural and pragmatical points of view are taken into consideration. Shortening of words means the formation of new ones by substituting a part of the word for a whole, affecting both separate words and word-groups. All shortened words function in the language as other ordinary words do, thus taking on specific grammatical inflections. All of them can be divided according to the traditional division: graphical abbreviations, lexical shortenings, blends and splinters. The language of advertising has a trend to shorten long and difficult words especially for reading comprehension. Advertisements are intended for people who are really interested in the product or service advertised. That is why all kinds of shortenings are used in the expanded texts giving wide information on the advertised ones. Besides, all the new shortenings have to be familiar to an average customer in order to be recognized at once while reading them. But it should be kept in mind that they cannot be taken as a standard, though quite a lot of them are officially used in advertisements. Having their own peculiarities in style, they demand some special skills from advertisers, while being written. In general, shortening remains one of the most productive ways of writing new qualitative advertisements because of their memorability and economy of written space.

Key words: shortening, graphical, lexical, abbreviation, initials, blending, clipping.

Стаття присвячена способам словоскорочення в англомовній рекламі, як однім із найпродуктивніших для поповнення лексичного запасу мови в цілому. Сучасний темп життя вимагає від друкованих засобів передачі великого об’єму інформації за найкоротший проміжок часу, ощаджуючи на письмі. Словоскорочення означає утворення нових слів, замінюючи ціле слово його частиною, що є дієвим по відношенню як до окремих слів, так і до словосполучень. Розглядаються найбільш популярні способи словотворення з точки зору структури і прагматики рекламних оголошень. Всі скорочені слова функціонують в мові як і звичайні інші, таким чином набираючи специфічні граматичні флексії. Всі вони традиційно діляться на: графічні абревіатури, заглавні абревіатури, лексичні скорочення, слова-гібриди. Мова реклами має тенденцію до скорочення довгих і складних слів, особливо для зрозумілого читання. Рекламні оголошення призначені для людей, які дійсно зацікавлені продуктом або послугою, що рекламується. Ось чому всі види скорочень використовуються в поширених текстах, подаючи широку інформацію щодо рекламованої продукції. Окрім того, всі нові скорочення мають бути знайомими пересічному споживачеві, щоб їх можна було відразу впізнати при читанні. Але треба також пам’ятати, що нові словоскорочення не є мовним стандартом, хоча багато з них офіційно використовується в рекламних оголошеннях. Маючи свої власні особливості стилю, вони вимагають від рекламодавця спеціальних навичок при їхньому написанні. В цілому, словоскорочення залишається одним з найбільш продуктивних способів написання якісних рекламних оголошень завдяки здатністю до запам’ятовування і ощадності на письмі.

Ключові слова: словоскорочення, графічний, лексичний, абревіатура, ініціали, слово-гібрид.

 

Статья посвящена способам словосокращения в англоязычной рекламе, как одному из самых продуктивных для пополнения лексического запаса языка в целом. Современный темп жизни требует от печатных средств передачи большого объема информации за самый короткий промежуток времени, при этом экономя на письме. Словосокращение означает образование новых слов путем замены целого слова его частью, что является действенным по отношению как к отдельному слову, так и к словосочетаниям. Рассматриваются наиболее популярные способы словообразования с точки зрения структуры и прагматики рекламных объявлений. Все сокращенные слова функционируют в языке, как и обычные другие, таким образом вбирая специфические грамматические флексии. Все они традиционно делятся на: графические аббревиатуры, заглавные аббревиатуры, лексические сокращения, слова-гибриды. Язык рекламы имеет тенденцию к сокращению длинных и сложных слов, особенно для понятного чтения. Рекламные объявления предназначены для людей, которые действительно заинтересованы в рекламируемом продукте или услуге. Вот почему все виды сокращений используются в расширенных текстах, предоставляя широкую информацию о рекламируемой продукции. Кроме того, все новые сокращения должны быть знакомы среднему потребителю, чтобы их сразу же можно было распознать при чтении. Но следует также помнить, что новые сокращения не являются речевым стандартом, хотя многие из них официально используются в рекламных объявлениях. Со своими особенностями стиля, они требуют от рекламодателей специального умения при написании. В целом, словосокращение остается одним из наиболее продуктивных способов написания новых качественных рекламных объявлений благодаря способности к запоминанию и экономии на письме.

Ключевые слова: словосокращение, графический, лексический, аббревиатура, инициалы, слово-гибрид.

 

In the process of communication words and word-groups can be shortened. The causes of shortening can be linguistic and extralinguistic, by which changes in the life of people are meant. In Modern English many new abbreviations, acronyms, initials, blends are formed because the very life tempo is increasing and it becomes necessary to give more and more information in the shortest possible time. There are also linguistic causes of abbreviating words and word-groups, such as the demand of rhythm, which is satisfied in English by monosyllabic words. When borrowings from other languages are assimilated in English, they are shortened. Here we have the form modification on the basis of analogy, so as the Latin borrowing fanaticus is shortened to fan on the analogy with native words: man, pan, tan etc.

Shortening of words is the way of formation of new words by means of substituting a part of the word for a whole. This process affects both words and word-groups. Therefore, the term shortening is to be regarded as conventional, divided into two types: graphical abbreviations and lexical shortening (abbreviation, clipping, blending). All shortened words function in the language as any other ordinary word does, so they take on grammatical inflections: exams, MPs, PMs; they also may be used with both types of articles: the BBC, a bike, the Lib; they may be combined with derivational affixes and used in compounding as well: MP-ess, Euro-MP [1, с. 116]. Having analyzed more than fifty examples of advertisements from the British press, we can affirm that they were simple slogans with no additional information, announcements which mentioned the place and time of the event advertised or the place where the offered product or service can be purchased, and expanded advertising texts conveying broad information on the product, service or event with its characteristic features and peculiarities. All of them can be sorted according to the traditional division: graphical abbreviations, initial abbreviations, lexical shortenings, blends and splinters.

Graphical abbreviations are the result of shortening of words and word-groups only in written speech while using the corresponding full forms orally. So, they are used for the economy of space and effort in writing. The oldest group of graphical abbreviations in English is of Latin origin, being not typical for the Ukrainian language. In these abbreviations Latin words are shortened in spelling, but pronounced in the full form as their English equivalents: e.g. – for example (Latin exampli gratia), a.m. – in the morning (Latin ante meridiem), No. – number (Latin numero), p.a. – a year (Latin per annum), lb – pound (Latin libra), i.e. – that is (Latin id est), etc. Some graphical abbreviations of Latin origin have different English equivalents in different contexts: p.m. can be read as in the afternoon (post meridiem) or after death (post mortem).

There are also graphical abbreviations of native origin, where we have shortenings and their equivalents in full form. They can be divided into several semantic groups:

  1. a) days of the week: Mon-Monday, Tue-Tuesday;
  2. b) names of months: Apr-April, Aug-August;
  3. c) names of address: , Mrs., Ms., Dr.;
  4. d) names of counties (UK) and states (USA): Yorks-Yorkshire, Berks-Berkshire, Ala-Alabama, Tex-Texas;
  5. e) military ranks: capt.-captain, col.-colonel, sgt-sergeant;
  6. f) scientific degrees: B.A.-Bachelor of Arts, D.M.-Doctor of Medicine, Ph.D.-Philosophy Doctor;
  7. g) units of time, length, weight: -second, f.-foot/feet, mg.-milligram.

Graphical abbreviations are normally used for the economy of space, that is why being frequent means of slogans, announcements, posters and other pieces of information. Any advertisement may contain numerous shortened variants of Latin and English words and word-groups: A.D. (Anno Domini), ib. (ibidem), b.f. (bona fide), oz (ounce), in (inch), cm (centimetre), L.P. (Long Playing), a.o.b. (any other business), m.p.h.(miles per hour), govt (government).

The following advertisements offer directly some products giving the address or place of the certain event with the time fixed: L.A. LOUVER is pleased to announce the opening of the LOUVER GALLERY, N.Y.; NO-FEE Rentals!!! We wait for You! 195 Stanton st.; Ed and Nancy Reddin: Paintings. Oct.19 to Nov.14.; 17 mg “tar”, 1.1 mg nicotine av. per cigarette by FTC method.; SUNDAY BRUNCH. Noon to 3:30 pm. [8; 9].

From these examples it is clearly seen that the indispensable condition for all these abbreviations is that they are familiar to an average person and therefore, he has no problems with recognizing it. In general, all of them must be acceptable due to the long usage and fixed in the common vocabulary.

Initial abbreviations (initialisms) are the bordering case between graphical and lexical ones. They are formed from the first letters of the words to be shortened. When they appear in the language to denote some new institutions (enterprises), they become closer to graphical abbreviations because full forms of them are used in oral speech. But being used for some time they acquire the shortened form of pronouncing and thus become closer to lexical abbreviations: DJ (disc jockey), VJ (video jockey), 3D (three-dimensional). They are mostly used in the names of the companies, trademarks or products.

Strictly speaking, there are three types of initialisms in English:

  1. a) initialisms with alphabetical reading, such as UK, USA, FRG;
  2. b) initialisms which are read like words, such as UNESCO, UNO, NATO;
  3. c) initialisms which coincide with English words in their sound forms (acronyms), such as CLASS (Computer-based Laboratory for Automated School System).

Some scientists consider a) and b) groups to be one called acronyms. Sometimes analogy as a psycholinguistic phenomenon influences the creation of the new abbreviations, which are formed according to certain models. So, the world known British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) became the prototype for a number of companies that belong to the same professional field: CBC – Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; ABC – American/Australian Broadcasting Corporation; NBC – National Broadcasting Corporation; CBS – Columbia Broadcasting System.

The initial abbreviations in advertisements can be both fixed and new depending on their usage frequency. The fixed initialisms (UNO, UNESCO, NATO) are used, as a rule, in the informative advertisements intended for general comprehension. Quite opposite, specific human activities exploit special terms (MOSAIC – metal-oxyde-semiconductor array integrated circuit (chemistry), PROOF – Precision Recording Optical of Fingerprints (police investigation)), which are hardly understandable for average people. Sometimes giving technical characteristics of the product, special terms are written and read without any explanation: SLR camera (single-lens reflect).

There is a tendency in the language of advertising to use the author’s (new) initials. The free decoding of them is worth mentioning here. To create slogans a company (enterprise) takes an average word and decodes it as if it were an abbreviation: A.C.T.I.O.N. – Any Change To Improve Our Nature; ASAP – Always Say A Prayer; ASH – Action on Smoking and Health; CAB – Citizens’ Advice Bureau; D.E.N.I.A.L. – Don’t Even kNow I Am Lying; DETACH – Don’t Even Try And Change Him (Her); E.G.O. – Easing God Out; F.A.I.T.H. – Finding Answers In The Higher Power; F.E.A.R. – Forgetting Everything is All Right; H.A.L.T. – Happy, Appreciative, Lovable, Teachable; H.O.P.E. – Hang On, Peace Exists; T.I.M.E. – Things I Must Earn; W.I.S.D.O.M. – Words In Steps Do Open Minds [8; 9].

These kinds of shortenings are predominantly used as slogans, separately or with further explanations. All these phrases serve as an attraction to the main body of the advertisement, conveying its aim and potential.

It is only natural that in the course of time and language development some graphical abbreviations should penetrate into the sphere of oral speech and turn into lexical abbreviations to be used in writing: MP, SOS, TV, etc. They are formed by a simultaneous operation of shortening and compounding, making up the following ways of reading lexical abbreviations:

  • as a succession of alphabetical reading of the constituent letters: GMTGreenwich mean time; V.I.P. – a very important person; EEC – Economic European Community;
  • as a succession of sounds denoted by the constituent letters, i.e. as if the abbreviations were ordinary words: UNO – the United Nations Organization; NATO – North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

As a rule, lexical abbreviations do not include functional words (prepositions, articles, etc.), although there are some exceptions: R&D – research and development.

It should be mentioned that concerning advertisements, the more frequently the word is used, the shorter it is. That is why advertisements tend to shorten long and difficult words exclusively for reading comprehension. The ad texts are emphasized by slogans in different print and intended for people who are already interested in the product or service advertised. Thus, abbreviation of a word means clipping its part. As a result we get a new lexical unit where either the lexical meaning or the style is different from the full form. In such cases as fantasy and fancy, fence and defence we have different lexical meanings. And in the case laboratory-lab we get different styles.

Abbreviations do not change the part-of-speech meaning, they produce words belonging to the same parts of speech as the primary words: professor-prof, veteran-vet, telephone-phone, refrigerator-fridge. Mostly nouns undergo abbreviation, but we may also meet verbs: to revolve-to rev, to tabulate-to tab. Adjectives can be abbreviated but predominantly in school slang: comfy (comfortable), dilly (delightful), mizzy (miserable), teck (technical). Pronouns, numerals, interjections, conjunctions are not abbreviated as a rule, the exceptions being fif (fifteen), in one’s teens (from 13 to 19). Clippings are classified according to the part of the word clipped. Generally the end of the word is clipped, because the beginning of the word in most cases expresses the lexical meaning of it: curio (curiosity), info (information), hols (holidays), disco (discotheque), expo (exposition), intro (introduction), Paki (Pakistani), Afro (African), undies (underclothes), nuke (nuclear). But in some cases the beginning of the word may be clipped, too: gator (alligator), chute (parachute), varsity (university), copter (helicopter). Sometimes the middle of the word is clipped: mart (market), fanzine (fanmagazine), maths (mathematics) [7, с. 135]. These shortenings are easily understood in advertisements (ads, adverts), because a lot of shortened words already exist in the language together with longer forms having the same lexical meanings. The only difference is emotive force and style.

Blending is a specific type of shortening. Blends are formed by means of merging parts of words (not morphemes) into a new word. In other words, blending is compounding by means of clipping. In blends two ways of word-building are combined: abbreviation and composition. One of the first blends in English was the word smog (smoke +fog). As a rule, many blends are shortlived. In the language of advertising they are created for a specific aim only: to attract attention of the people with the help of interesting linguistic discoveries: crocoraffe = crocodile + giraffe (the mystical symbol of the company producing toys, clothes, etc. for children). Some of the blendings were so successful that they have already become part of the language: motel = motor + hotel, botel = boat + hotel, airtel = airport + hotel. Because of its influence thousands of blendings appear every year, especially in the language of advertising: casomat = cash + automat, popcert = popular + concert, yarden = yard + garden. Most of them would disappear in the whirlpool of the same blends, but some would survive and enlarge the vocabulary existing universally.

In the second half of the 20th century the English word building system was enriched by creating the so-called splinters, which scientists include in the affixation stock of the Modern English word building system. Splinters are the result of clipping of the end or the beginning of a word and thus producing a number of new words on the analogy with the primary word-group: miniplane, minijet, minicycle, minicar or maxi-series, maxi-sculpture, maxi-taxi and so on.

The European Economic Community having been organized, quite a number of neologisms with the Euro- splinter were coined: Euratom, Eurocard, Euromarket, Eurotunnel and many others. These splinters are sometimes treated as prefixes in Modern English. Splinters may be called pseudomorphemes as they are neither roots nor affixes, being artificial ones.

The language of advertising prefers using splinters, like any other type of lexical shortenings, in the expanded texts that give wide information about the product, service or event advertised. Splinters may be considered to be a productive way of advertising word formation as they enable copywriters to have a broad field of action. From the word hamburger that originates from the German city of Hamburg, a lot of new words were formed. The stem burger became a splinter, acquired the meaning “a bun cut into two parts” and gave way to the following words: baconburger, beefburger, cheeseburger, fishburger, etc.  In the 1970s there was a loud political scandal in the Watergate Hotel, where the US Democratic Party had its pre-election headquarters. Their Republican rivals managed to install bugs there, but on having been discovered, they led to a state scandal and the ruling government had to resign. The name Watergate got the meaning of a corruption scandal and the splinter gate favoured the formation of quite a number of similar scandalous names: Irangate, Shuttlegate, milliongate, etc. The splinter mobile is used to denote some special types of automobiles, such as: artmobile, snowmobile, tourmobile, Papamobile, etc. The splinter napper (from kidnapper) now denotes different types of crimesters: busnapper, dognapper, etc. From these nouns the corresponding verbs were formed by means of backformation: to busnap, to dognap. The splinter quake (from earthquake) bears the meaning of shaking, agitating: Moonquake, youthquake.  Another example of splinter productivity is thon (from Marathon) meaning something continuing for a long time and competing in endurance: dancathon, telethon, talkathon, walkathon, moviethon, etc. As far as verbs are concerned, it is not typical of them to be clipped, that is why there is only one splinter to be used for such a case: cast (from broadcast) gave us the verbs telecast and abroadcast.

There are also grammatical shortenings that are generally used within any type of written advertisements. These are the contradictions of auxiliary verbs mainly: Everything’s Built-In; Don’t Wait Another Minute; Once a Moment’s Passed, You’ve Missed an Opportunity to Preserve It Forever; You’ve Come a Long Way [8; 9].

Other shortenings one may come across in advertisements are the following: lol –laughing out loud; imho – in my humble opinion; ‘shun – attention; ‘tec – detective; ‘tis – it is; ‘twas – it was; ‘tween – between; brb – be right back; btw – by the way; ppl – people; omg – oh my God; fave – favourite; thx – thank you [8; 9].

These are the words that have already become part of the English written language. They cannot be considered a standard, though many of them are officially used in advertisements. It should be kept in mind that the language of advertising has its own peculiarities in style and demands specific skills from people who write advertisements. Shortening is one of the most productive ways of creating new advertisements because of its memorability and economy of space and writing.

REFERENCES

  1. Гусак І.П. Структура та прагматика фрагментованих лексичних одиниць у сучасній англійській мові (на матеріалі мови мас-медіа): Дис. … канд. філ. наук. – Л., 2005.
  2. Лиса Н.С. Структурні та лінгвопрагматичні особливості рекламного знака: Автореф. дис. … канд. філ. наук. – Л., 2003.
  3. Помірко Р.С. Зредуковані форми слів у еволюції романських мов // Іноземна філологія. – 1993. – Вип. 105.
  4. Arnold I. The English Word. – M.: Vysshaya Shkola, 1986.
  5. Bauer L. English Word-Formation. – Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
  6. Kveselevich D.I., Sasina V.P. Modern English Lexicology in Practice. – Vinnytsa: Nova Knyha Publishers, 2001.
  7. Lyons J. Introduction to Theoretical Linguistics. – Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968.

ILLUSTRATIVE MATERIAL

  1. “Cosmopolitan”, 2002-2005.
  2. “National Geographic”, December 1990, № 6.
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