Peculiarities of using modern abbreviations in English language - Студенческий научный форум

XI Международная студенческая научная конференция Студенческий научный форум - 2019

Peculiarities of using modern abbreviations in English language

Бекмаганбетова Г.С. 1, Жасарова Д.Г. 1
1Евразийский Национальный университет им Л.Н.Гумилева
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All the previously mentioned aspects are accumulated under the single name of the English language in the present work in this manner it is productive to talk about and analyze in most detail the development of the advanced English language which is set apart by the greatest impact of abbreviations.

During the time spent on communication, words and word-groups can be abbreviated. Shortened form of words consists in clipping a piece of a word. As a result we get another lexical unit where either the lexical meaning or the style is distinctive form the full type of the word. Moreover, abbreviations are considered to be not time consuming because it shortens particular word by not losing sense.

The main purpose of this paper is to distinguish those characteristics of procedure of abbreviation development in modern English. One of the rule goals is to develop improvement of English language lexical units.The actuality of the paper is caused by the dynamics of the development of modern English. Abbreviations make our life easier. However, when using them, we should not overdo it. The abbreviations, the subject of study, are the most intensively developing units of English. Consequently, there is the distinctive interest to abbreviations in modern linguistics.

Abbreviating work or academic titles is common practice in the UK.  It was resumed that people in business got used many abbreviations mostly because economic terms tend to be too long. It is hard to make a list of them because there are so many of them. The best thing to do is to learn them progressively. Graphical abbreviations are the result of shortening of words and word-groups only in written speech while orally the corresponding full forms are used. They are used for the economy of space and effort in writing.

The oldest group of graphical abbreviations in English is of Latin origin. In Russian this type of abbreviation is not typical. The second one helps to follow the stylistic peculiarities and functions of the abbreviations in modern English.

In the general problematics of modern lexicological works, a significant place is occupied by studies of lexical units, aimed at defining the means and methods of designating in the language of diverse facts of objective reality, which is ensured by means of various speech derivational means. Along with the traditional methods of word formation - word-production and the basic composition - such an important role is played by such methods of vocabulary replenishment as semantic conversion, borrowing and abbreviation. The latter gains a certain advantage over other methods, since it makes it possible to form new root words and their elements. The specificity of this method is determined by the fact that the components in the abbreviation exist in a special representation, since it is such a complexly abbreviated name, in which many parts of the initial or motivating structure appear in an unrecognizable form (they are not the specific bases of the initial or motivating structure, but only its reduced segment).

They have been promptly acknowledged by the general population and passed on to the present day, since abbreviations have an all inclusive value. We can discover abbreviations, which fit any business circumstance and this gives them general application.

Abbreviations are utilized to save time, and to make long names of associations and long specialized terms less demanding to recall and less monotonous to allude to repeatedly in an extended piece of writing, for example, an article or text book. In such settings, if the abbreviation is certainly not an extremely basic one, the long name or specialized term is regularly given in full at the first mention, with the shortened form in sections after it. After that simply the abbreviation is used.

The reasons for shortening can be linguistic and extra-linguistic. By additional extra-linguistic causes changes in the life of individuals are implied. We can assume that in modern English numerous new abbreviations, acronyms, initials, blends are formed in light of the fact that the tempo of life is expanding and it becomes important to give increasingly more data in the most brief possible time.

There are additionally linguistic causes of abbreviating words and word-gatherings, for example, the interest of beat, which is fulfilled in English by monosyllabic words.When borrowings from other languages are assimilated in English they are shortened. Here we have modification of form on the basis of analogy, e.g. the Latin borrowing «fanaticus» is shortened to «fan» on the analogy with native words: man, pan, tan etc.

Looking to abbreviation as a branch of linguistics, the definition will be as follows: ‘Abbreviation is a shortening of a word or phrase to be used to report the full form’ (World English Dictionary. 2009). To put such definition into one word it is possible to define the abbreviation as a ‘reduction’. However, returning back to definitions, the common explanation for the term as abbreviation, which can be found in any useful dictionary, looks like this: ‘Abbreviation is a shortened form of a word or phrase’ (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. 2005). Graphical and lexical abbreviations mainly occur in written texts. Graphical abbreviations are the result of shortening of words and word-groups only in written speech while orally the corresponding full forms are used. They are used for the economy of space and effort in writing. Graphical abbreviations are restricted in use to written speech, occurring only in various kinds of texts, articles, books, advertisements, letters, etc. In reading, many of them are substituted by the words and phrases that they represent, e.g. Dr - doctor, Mr. – mister, Oct. - October, etc.; the abbreviations of Latin and French words and phrases are usually read as their English equivalents. It follows that graphical abbreviations cannot be considered new lexical vocabulary units. It is only natural that in the course of language development some graphical abbreviations should gradually penetrate into the sphere of oral intercourse and, as a result, turn into self-contained lexical units used both in oral and written speech. That is the case, for instance, with a.m. - in the morning, before noon; p.m. - in the afternoon; S.O.S. - Save Our Souls, urgent call for help,etc.

Abbreviations as such are divided into several groups or types. According to the studies of linguistics, there are four main kinds of abbreviations: shortenings, contractions, initialisms, acronyms. The first type is called shortenings. ‘Shortenings of the words or phrases usually consist of the first few letters of the full forms are spelt with capital letters’ (World English Dictionary. 2009). For example, MP (Members of the Parliament); FCO (First Commonwealth Fund, Inc); CEO (Chief Executive Officer); etc. In the linguistic literature, shortenings considered marginal. From the viewpoint of the linguistic system, this is to a certain extent justified, for shortening is not governed by productive rules like normal word formation. Rather, shortening is the creation of new roots by a variety of techniques applied in a very free and creative manner. On the contrary, their rapidly growing number not only in English language, but in other languages, too, shows that the language users feel a strong need for them

The second type of abbreviations is contractions. ‘Contractions are abbreviated forms in which letters from the middle of the full form have been omitted’ (World English Dictionary. 2009). In other words, contractions are ‘clippings’ or ‘cuttings’. Clipping refers to the creation of new words by shortening a word of two or more syllables without changing its class membership. Clipped words, though they often exist together with the longer original source word function as independent lexical units with a certain phonetic shape and lexical meaning of their own. The lexical meanings of the clipped word and its source do not as a rule coincide, for instance, doc refers only to one who practices medicine, whereas doctor denotes also the higher degree given by a university and a person who has received it, e.g. Doctor of Law, Doctor of Philosophy. Clipped words always differ from the non-clipped words in the emotive charge and stylistic reference. Clippings indicate an attitude of familiarity on the part of the user either towards the object denoted or towards the audience, thus clipped words are characteristic of colloquial speech. In the course of time, though, many clipped words find their way into the literary language losing some of their colloquial colouring.

The next type of abbreviations is called initialisms or ‘semi-shortenings’. ‘Initialisms are made up of the initial letters of the words and are pronounced as separate letters’ (World English Dictionary. 2009). For example, SIR - Self Insured Retention. In addition, to this particular type of abbreviations are related world know reduced forms such as etc or (etc.) which means ‘et cetera’ in a full form, p or pp, which stands for ‘page’ or ‘pages’ in a full form interpretation. Initailisms as previous ones can be found not only in articles, but in any kind of literature. At least, English initialisms are a minor, somewhat unpredictable kind of phenomenon that might be outsight the normal parameters of word formation and so might be underserving of serious study, in contrast with major kinds of formation like compounds and affixations that have long been analyzed in many languages.

Finally, the fourth type of abbreviations known as acronyms. ‘Acronyms are initialisms that have become words in their own rights, or similar words formed from parts of several words. Acronyms are pronounced as several words rather than as a series of letters, and do not have periods. In many cases the Acronyms became the standard term and the full form is only used in explanatory contexts’ (World English Dictionary. 2009). For example, UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.The term acronym refers to pronounceable abbreviations formed with initial letters of a compound term, while initialism is the type of the same name abbreaviation which is not unpronounceable. Despite this original distinction, the label initialism is rarely used, while acronym has extended its meaning to pronounceable and unpronounceable abbreviations. It is in this extend sense that the term acronym is going to be used.

The twentieth-century popularity of initialisms is demonstrated by the increasing numbers and size of dictionaries, some of which have gone into profitable later editions, not to mention the expanding number of specialized dictionaries. Following the nineteenth-century collections, there were three early twentieth-century ones. Dobbs's book was noteworthy because he remarked in his Editor's Note that multimeanings were already so well established that his 10,000 entries required him to list about 50,000 meanings. Five collections appeared during the World War Two period (Partridge 1942, Stephenson 1943, Shankle 1945, Allen 1946, Matthews 1947). Fourteen dictionaries of general initialisms have since appeared, most of which used the traditional term abbreviations in their titles. De Sola's book has reached an "augmented, international" seventh edition. Gale's Acronyms Dictionary began with 1,200 items in 1960 and has steadily expanded, to 130,000 in 1976, 300,000 in 1984, and 425,000 in Crowley and Sheppard's twelfth edition. Such collections are necessary, as Roosevelt's "alphabet soup" would now pale in comparison even to the much-thicker "soup" used by computer professionals. Insiders at almost every computer hardware and software company use many acronyms and numerous abbreviations.

Modern computer publications, both foreign and local, unwittingly encounters a lot of cuts, suitable technologies, standards and conventions. Their number is increasing day by day, and all the new reductions fall into this category are often used and therefore do not require descriptions.  The abbreviation is one of the main trends in development of modern English, especially in its colloquial layer, which, in its turn at high degree is supported by development of modern informational technologies and simplification of alive speech. The problem of shortened words in modern English is very actual nowadays. A number of famous linguists dealt with the problem of shortening of words in modern English. In particular, Profs. Ullmann and Broal emphasized the social reasons for shortening, L. Lipka pointed out non-binary contrast or many-member lexical sets and gave the type which he called directional opposition, V.N. Comissarov and Walter Skeat proved the link of homonymy influence with the appearing of shortened words. The problem of shortening is still waits for its detail investigation.
Most of the abbreviated units, correlated with ambiguous words, correspond in their semantics to only one of the lexical-semantic variants of the original unit. When truncating both single-valued and multi-valued words, a semantic shift can be traced, leading to the emergence of new words in terms of meaning and different in terms of volume. The main factors contributing to the semantic shift between the original word and the abbreviated unit are extralinguistic, namely: the functioning of the abbreviated unit in a limited language environment (specialization of meaning); expansion of the functioning of the reduced unit (expansion of value); the need for nomination on the basis of the relationship of objects of reality for adjacency (metonymic transfer) and for similarity (metaphorical transfer).

Abbreviation actively interacts with other methods of word formation. From abbreviations can form new words using traditional methods of word formation: a) word production; b) vocabulary; c) conversion. Analysis of the structure of generating words in the English language showed that among them are abbreviations and acronyms, which is a new trend in affixing word formation.

Abbreviations of various types are increasingly penetrating into all layers of vocabulary, and often this is not something random words, and its full units, recorded by dictionaries of abbreviations. Many of the newly formed abbreviations become known only in certain industries; others are discarded and forgotten; others are widespread. It depends on the needs of society in this language unit, on social factors, on the communicative explosion. The latter is expressed in a sharp short-term increase in public interest in any object, phenomenon or event, linguistically manifested in a sharp increase in the frequency of language units used to exchange information about this event, object or phenomenon and, ultimately, in their reduction. Further development of the abbreviation seems to be a promising direction, since English does not show a tendency to reduce abbreviation nominations.

Overall, abbreviations save space and prevent the distraction of needlessly repeated words or phrases. The space saved is usually so small, however that the use of abbreviations is determined largely by custom, convenience to the reader, and the mostly the appearance of the printed page.

In general few abbreviations should be used in the text of a survey report, although many may be used in tables and footnotes. The text should be understandable by nonspecialists, and abbreviations should be used without definition only if they are widely understood. Uncommon abbreviations must be defined the first time they are used in the main text. The standard Survey format is to enclose the abbreviated form in parentheses immediately following the spelled out form-for example, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Follow the same procedure in the abstract if a term is used several times there, and because the abstract must be able to stand alone, repeat the procedure in the main text the first time the abbreviation is used there. Common sense can help decide when abbreviations are appropriate. Terms used only a few times should not be abbreviated, and abbreviations that might inconvenience the reader should not be used. In general, abbreviations are suitable for often-repeated names of organizations, conferences, congresses, and programs-for example, IGCP, for International Geological Correlation Programme; AGI, for American Geological Institute; also, for widely used instruments or processes-for example, SEM for scanning-electron microscope. Abbreviations are inappropriate for geographic names or geologic terms in survey reports, no matter how many times such names or terms are used in a paper. Do not, for example, use AB for Appalachian Basin, SAF for San Andreas Fault. Abbreviations are used freely in tables, partly because of tight space limitations. Abbreviations used in tables are defined in bracketed headnotes.

The practical part helps to follow the stylistic peculiarities and functions of the abbreviations in modern English.

Nowadays the computer systems hardware and especially the software are more and more often adjusted to the cultural and language peculiarities of a specific country and nation. In different countries, different alphabets and rules for coding currency units, date, time, numbers, etc. are in use. Sorting algorithms for verbal texts present a special kind of problem. English and culture have developed in close contacts with several languages and cultures, so we do not possess unique rules and algorithms to represent the above-mentioned data. Agreements developed in practical life need to be presented in the form of a standard. In most cases, it is possible to lean on international standards, yet they have to be somewhat extended and specified according to the peculiarities of the European languages and culture.

It is determined that we shouldn’t abbreviate the following:

(In formal academic prose it is considered bad form to abbreviate words simply to save space, time, or energy.)

- Words such as through (thru), night (nite).

- Days of the week or months of the year (in the normal flow of text).

- Words at the beginning of a sentence.

- People's names such as Chas. (for Charles) or Jas. (for James), unless those abbreviations have come to be accepted as nicknames for those particular individuals.

- States' names such as Mass. (for Massachusetts) or Conn. (for Connecticut). When appropriate (as in the addresses for envelopes), use the U.S. postal service's approved two-letter abbreviations: MA, CT (without periods).

- Courses such as econ (for economics) or polisci (for political science).

Having researched the texts of official style, we can affirm that the abundance of abbreviations is the characteristic feature of official speech of modern English language. 

We can conclude that in the process of communication words and word-groups should be shortened so as:

1. The causes of shortening can be linguistic and extra-linguistic. By extra-linguistic causes changes in the life of people are meant.

2. In Modern English many new abbreviations, acronyms, initials, blends are formed because the tempo of life is increasing and it becomes necessary to give more and more information in the shortest possible time.

3. The rushing to clearness discovers expression in application of legible grammar constructions and lexical units, and also in the wide use of a nomenclature.

4. As a rule, the placed terms will be utilized conventional, though meet and terminoids (terms, having circulation in a narrow orb), which considerably hamper translation.

5.  The rushing to a multiplicity expresses in wide application of infinitive, gerundial and subordinate clauses, abbreviations (cuttings) and conventional signs.

Conclusion. In general, abbreviations for scientific terms and for terms of measurement are not followed by periods; In the conclusion the abundance of abbreviations is the characteristic feature of modern style of English language. It was determined that the process of global integration plays the leading role in the activization and development of abbreviations in modern English.

It was also determined that there is a difference between acronyms and abbreviations. An acronym is usually formed by taking the first initials of a phrase or compounded-word and using those initials to form a word that stands for something. However, initialisms are considered to be not so demanding.

Graphical abbreviations are the result of shortening of words and word-groups only in written speech while orally the corresponding full forms are used. They are used for the economy of space and effort in writing. There are also graphical abbreviations of native origin, where in the spelling we have abbreviations of words and word-groups of the corresponding English equivalents in the full form. Obviously, that the rushing to clearness discovers expression in application of legible grammar constructions and lexical units, and also in the wide use of a nomenclature. As a rule, the placed terms will be utilized conventional, though meet and terminoids (terms, having circulation in a narrow orb), which considerably hamper translation. The rushing to a multiplicity expresses in wide application of infinitive, gerundial and subordinate clauses, abbreviations, cuttings and conventional signs.


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2. B. J. Lin, “Editorial: implementing JM3 acronyms,” J. Micro/Nanolith. (2008)

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4. B. J. Lin, “Editorial: implementing JM3 acronyms,” J. Micro/Nanolith. (2008)

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