Posted by: episystechpubs | September 3, 2014

Editor’s Corner: Word Clipping at Work

Good afternoon! I had a question recently about common abbreviations like info (for information) and sync (for synchronization). The question was, “Why did you change info to information—everyone knows what info means, right?” Well, most people who are fluent in English do. However, I can’t answer that question with a straight-up yes, because today, so much of what we write will be read by people for whom English is not their first language. We should always keep that in mind.

The real answer to that question is that I changed info to information because in professional writing, to retain a professional tone, we always spell these words out (it’s the same reason we avoid using contractions like can’t, I’ll, and should’ve in our technical documentation and our correspondences to clients). But that’s not to say that we don’t or shouldn’t use these abbreviated words (and contractions) in other situations.

So, just for fun, let’s talk about abbreviating, which is also called word clipping. When we talk, and when we’re engaged in casual or creative writing, we clip words in a few different ways.

We back clip (remove the last part of a word). For example:

· Info: information

· Taxi: taximeter

· Lunch: luncheon

· Gas: gasoline

We fore-clip (remove the first part of a word). For example:

· Bot: robot

· Roach: cockroach

· Phone: telephone

We middle clip (remove the first and last part, and leave the middle part of a word). For example:

· Fridge: refrigerator

· Flu: influenza

We play with words all the time. I love to do it too, but not when writing technical documentation and not when corresponding with clients. We always have to keep our audience in mind.

The examples of clipped words above are from an article written by Maeve Maddox at Daily Writing Tips.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432


Responses

  1. […] for example). Today, I want to discuss a related topic: clipping. I’ve written about this subject before, but today, I’m going to discuss two specific clipped words that turn perfectly happy verbs into […]


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