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кандидат філологічних наук, Голуб О. М., Мірошніченко Д. О. ABBREVIATION AS A PRODUCTIVE WAY OF SLANG VOCABULARY ENRICHMENT

УДК 811.11’276.2



кандидат філологічних наук, Голуб О. М., Мірошніченко Д. О.

ДВНЗ «Донбаський державний педагогічний університет», Україна, м. Слов’янськ


Статтю присвячено вивченню ролі абревіації у поповненні сленгового вокабуляру. Зазначено, що створення абревіатур є природною реакцією мови на швидкий темп сучасного життя, на загальну тенденцію до передачі максимального обсягу змісту за допомогою мінімальної кількості мовних знаків. Наводяться окремі класифікації сленгізмів-абревіатур; подається огляд питання про функціонування акронімів у сленговій лексиці. Усі теоретичні положення проілюстровані матеріалом сучасних спеціальних лексикографічних джерел.

Ключові слова: сленгізм, абревіація, аферезис, апокопа, синкопа.


Голуб Е. М., Мирошниченко Д. А. Аббревиация как продуктивный способ пополнения сленгового вокабуляра / ГВУЗ «Донбасский государственный педагогический университет», Украина, г. Славянск

Статья посвящена изучению роли аббревиации в пополнении сленгового вокабуляра. Отмечается, что создание новых аббревиатур является естественной реакцией языка на быстрый темп современной жизни, на общую тенденцию к передаче максимального объема содержания с помощью минимального объема языковых знаков. Приводятся отдельные классификации сленгизмов-аббревиатур, представляется обзор вопроса о функционировании акронимов в сленговой лексике. Все теоретические положения проиллюстрированы материалом современных специальных лексикографических источников.

Ключевые слова: сленгизм, аббревиация, аферезис, синкопа, апокопа.


Holub O. M., Miroshnichenko D. O. Abbreviation as a productive way of slang vocabulary enrichment / SHEE «Donbas State Teacher Training University», Ukraine, Sloviansk

The article deals with the study of abbreviation as a way of slang vocabulary enrichment. The authors state that the formation of slang abbreviations is a natural reaction of lexis to the ever increasing tempo of life, to the general tendency towards expressing the maximum amount of sense by means of the minimum amount of language signs. The classifications of slang abbreviations have been studied; the peculiarities of acronyms have been covered as well. All theoretical statements have been illustrated with the lexical material taken from special modern lexicographical sources.

Key words: slangism, abbreviation, aphaeresis, apocope, syncope.



The subgroups of Special Colloquial Vocabulary are more and more often brought to focus in modern lexicological research. Linguists study the essence, functions, spheres of usage of slangisms, jargonisms, vulgarisms etc. The foundation for lexicographical and sociolinguistic study of slang has been laid by such prominent scholars as E. Partridge, H. Wentworth, S. B. Flexner, H. L. Mencken, Ch. Fries, I. R. Halperin, M. M. Makovskyi, V. O. Khomiakov, T. M. Bieliaieva and others. Important theories have been put forward by such Ukrainian linguists as I. A. Honta, O. L. Klymenko, V. V. Balabin, U. Potiatynyk, V. O. Dorda, K. L. Bondarenko, Yu. A. Zatsnyi, A. V. Yankov and others. A series of our articles deals with such key facets of slang as its linguistic status, typology of slangisms, structural and semantic peculiarities of rhyming, back and medial slang etc. [1; 2; 3; 4].

Among the wide range of aspects that become the subject matter of lexicological investigations the study of ways and means of word-building in slang is one of the most topical tasks. As slang is that sphere of Modern English Vocabulary which is constantly developing, the quantitative and qualitative analysis of newly-coined slangisms is ever significant for the science.

The presented article has been centred on the role of abbreviation in slang vocabulary enrichment. The intense interest to abbreviation as a linguistic phenomenon is proved by a great amount of papers and dissertations written by Ukrainian and foreign scholars. For the purposes of our study we have used theories of abbreviation developed by Yu. A. Zatsnyi, S. M. Yenikieieva, V. I. Zabotkina, R. K. Makhachashvili, O. V. Tupakhina, V. O. Khomiakov, T. M. Bieliaieva and others.

Thus the objective of the presented paper is to analyse the role of abbreviation as a mechanism of coining new slangisms in English. Abbreviation is traditionally interpreted as a specific reaction of language to the ever increasing tempo of life necessitating the creation of such linguistic units which can achieve maximal communicative effect by minimal number of language signs. The part abbreviation performs in the sphere of slang is enhanced by the fact that while undergoing the process of abbreviation a word (or a word-combination) acquires specific connotations (humorous, ironical, metaphorical, derogatory, harsh etc.) that form an integral peculiarity of slangisms as vocabulary entities.

The main body of the research

Abbreviation is a productive way of slang word-building. There exist several types of classification of curtailed words in Linguistics:

I. Shortenings may be classified according to the part of the word preserved in the result of contraction:

• X – the type in which the beginning of the word remains unchanged;

• – X – the type in which the middle part of the word is preserved;

• – X the type to which the words with the unchanged ending belong;

• X – X the type to which the words with the preserved beginning and ending belong [5, p. 111].

II. Another classification takes into account the part of the original word that has been lost:

• Apocope is the contraction of the ending of the word;

• Aphaeresis is the contraction of the beginning of the word;

• Combination of Apocope and Aphaeresis;

• Syncope is the contraction of the middle part of the word.

In both these classifications four main types of shortenings are presented, that is why there does not exist any fundamental difference between them.

Apocope is considered to be the most productive type of contraction. The examples of slang abbreviations with contracted ending are the following: beaut (from beauty) – wonderful, great; bod (from body) – a person; fed (from federal) – a US federal official, an FBI agent; scoot (from scooter) – a motor-cycle or a fast train; spag (from spaghetty).

In the process of curtailing the words may undergo some graphic changes as in such cases as: coke from cocaine, sesh meaning session or bout, esp. of drinking, spaz is an abbreviation of spastic (an incompetent, foolish person), spic functions as the abbreviation and alteration of spiggoty (a Spanish-speaking person from Central or South America or the Caribbean; the Spanish language). Sometimes such alterations are marked with suffixes: Aussie is the abbreviation of Australian; Barbie is a shortened form of the word barbecue; reffo is the curtailed form of the word ref/ugee + -o which is used in Australian English to denote a European refugee, esp. one who left Germany or German-occupied Europe before the Second World War; nasho – from nat/ional + -o → Australian slang, compulsory military training; one who undergoes this.

Aphaeresis is the second productive type of abbreviation: the following curtailed words were formed from original words so that their initial part was lost: gator is the abbreviation of alligator – a slang word which denotes a person who is a fan of jazz or swing music (but does not play it), scouse is the shortened form of the word lobscouse – a sailors’ meat stew as a slang word it is usually used in the meaning of an inhabitant of Liverpool. In some cases different graphic changes in shortened words can be observed: the abbreviation sheen is the slang unit which denotes a car and probably comes from the word machine; skeeter – US, Austr. mosquito, reflects the peculiarities of regional pronunciation; tash is the abbreviation of the word moustache (the graphic form tache is also widely used). The cases of phonetic changes are rare, one of the most often mentioned examples is the word brolly which is the shortened and altered form of the word umbrella, both these words may be used in the sphere of slang to refer to a parachute.

The least productive of the three is perhaps the next type of abbreviation – Syncope. Some examples of this type of abbreviation in which the middle part of the word is subtracted are: bonza (bonzer, boncer) from bonanza – the slang word meaning excellent, extremely good; the abbreviation q.t. stands for the word quiet, and means secret, confidential.

The combination of Apocope and Aphaeresis results in such creations as tec from detective that refers to both occupation and genre in literature. The abbreviations of the type Apocope+Syncope are very rare, for instance, in the abbreviation Biddy which comes from the female forename Bridget the ending and the middle-part sound [r] have been lost; the word is used to refer to a woman.

Another way of shortening, i.e. making a new word from the initial letters of a word group is also typical of slang. This type is called initial shortening. Such abbreviations do not differ much from initial shortenings which belong to the sphere of literary standard. Initial abbreviations may be pronounced in different ways: some of them are pronounced as individual letters: BLT stands for bacon, lettuce, and tomato and means a sandwich filled with this; OTT is the abbreviation of over the top meaning outrageous, over-exaggerated, extreme; mad, crazy; PDA is usually used in speech instead of its full form public display of affection; PFC is used to denote poor, foolish, forlorn civilian, the full form of it being Private First Class; OAO stands for one and only and refers to one’s sweetheart, something unique of its kind.

All abbreviations mentioned above are pronounced like individual letters, but there are also such which are usually pronounced like words. These abbreviations are traditionally referred to as acronyms. The test of a true acronym is often assumed to be that it should be pronounceable as a word within the normal word patterns of English. The word acronym has become widely used since the 1940s, when some acronyms connected with the Second World War appeared: Asdic (Allied Submarine Detection Investigation Committee), Sonar (Sound navigation and ranging). One more interesting example of acronym is the word Wren, which is used to denote a member of the Women’s Royal Naval Service, the women’s service of the Royal Navy. This acronym is formed from three initial letters of the service’s name, assimilated to wren, a small bird [6, p. 292]. Other linguists believe that it is due to the tendency of simplifying that the so-called ‘false’ acronym was created, because it does not come from the whole name of Women’s Royal Naval Service [7, p. 238]. Some of acronyms found in the vocabulary of slang were created due to certain social or political events, therefore such words go out of use very quickly. One of such acronyms is the word NIMBY which stands for the phrase ‘not in my backyard’, used as a slogan objecting to the siting of something considered unpleasant, such as nuclear waste, in one’s own locality (approximately identified since 1980s); the acronym also refers to someone who makes such objections; an adamant objector to local development, esp. building.

The charm of the acronyms is that they simplify (or just produce the impression of simplifying) difficult terms; more than that, they represent a particular way of word-formation and this way brings more variety and energy to the English language: ATS [æts] is acronym from A.T.S., the abbreviation of Auxiliary Territorial Service, denoting members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service, a British army corps consisting of women; AWOL [`eiwol] belongs to the US military slang and is widely used instead of the phrase ‘absent without leave’; Buppie is used to denote a black city-dwelling professional person who is (or attempts to be) upwardly mobile, this acronym is formed on Black urban (or upwardly-mobile) professional, after Yuppie (young urban professional) – a member of a socio-economic group comprising young professional people working in cities; the verb to sug is acronym from sell under guise, i.e. (to attempt) to sell (someone) a product under the guise of conducting market research; the acronym TEWT [tju:t] is formed from the initial letters of tactical exercise without troops, an exercise used in the training of junior officers; wop (wireless operator) – a radio operator.

A lot of slangisms have been formed on the basis of vocabulary units of the literary standard by way of abbreviations of different types. Some differences can be observed in the frequency of employment of these in different layers of language [8, p. 15]. Thus, if the initial shortening is typical of the neutral layer, then subtractions of different types are more characteristic of colloquial speech. In Australian slang Apocope is the most widely spread type of shortenings, maybe because the meaning is usually concentrated in the beginning of the word.


The perspectives of further research embrace the study of functions of slangisms-abbreviations in different regional variants of English, in texts of different styles and of the ways of rendering such lexical units into Ukrainian.



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