History & Concept SHORTENING


Shortening is a method of word formation by which much-used conversation is clipped to one or more of their syllables. It has contributed much to the enrichment of English vocabulary. However, the shortened form and the original form are separate words in spite of their similar meaning. Thus, the omnibus and the bus are not absolute synonyms, though they denote the same object. The same is true of photograph and photo, bicycle and cycle. Sometimes, the shortened form has ousted the longer form from use as in the case of wig for a periwig.

Very often, a word formed by shortening develops a meaning of its own which is not shared by the original word. Cabriolet and its shortened form cab do not denote the same kind of meaning so Miss and Mrs are now quite different in meaning, both were derived from the word Mistress. 
In the Middle English and early modern period, the initial vowel coming before the stressed syllable of a word was generally dropped in the hurry of pronunciation. The dropping of the vowel in assize gave birth to size and now they are quite different in meaning. Similar is the case with tend and attend, lone and alone, live and alive. The most curious word formation by this process is culprit which is shortened from culprest. 

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