Clipping occurs whenever a word is shortened but nevertheless still retains its original meaning and belongs to the same word-class.
Clipping-productivity is governed by the condition of derivatives being phonologically well-formed, with morpheme-boundary cuts no longer being a requirement (this helps distinguish certain clipping products from back-formation where such mechanism exists). This being said, with the use of la langue one is more likely to derive cello from violoncello rather than *ncell since it does not represent a pronunciation that is common or even correct in the English language. Another principle that that applies is a product of clipping must be either one- or two-syllable long; also — first or primarily-stressed syllables are retained.
This indeed is the case: refrigerator — fridge, advertisement — ad, penitentiary — pen.
In some cases, the syllable structure may be altered (e-xa-mi-na-tion - e-xam). Because of the language's tendency to adopt ways of expressing oneself in the most effective manner — that is convey as much meaning as possible in as little as possible — products of clipping tend to gain ground in slang words and become a tool used in relaxed, informal, every-day communication, which further solidifies their position in the language. They also indicate speaker's familiarity towards the concept that is presented through the word.
What also has been noted to happen is once a product of clipping is derived, it may rival with the lexeme it was derived from and because of so undergo semantic changes. This is contradictive to the rule of meaning-retention, and once again proves that word-formation often produces lexemes that are uneasy to define. The examples include fanatic — fan, brandywine — brandy, caravan — van . These show that discrepancies between the derivatives can exist, which can be further proved by the example of fanatic — fan — fanboy where both fanatic and the compound fanboy are semantically distant from each other.
There are four types of possible clipping processes, depending on which part of the word undergoes structural changes: back-clipping (temperature — temp, rhino — rhinoceros, gym — gymnasium), fore-clipping (helicopter — copter, telephone — phone, plane, aeroplane), mixed clipping (influenza — flu, refrigerator — fridge) and clipping-compounds (paratrooper — parachute + trooper).
- Szymanek, Bogdan (1998). Introduction to Morphological Analysis. p. 97.
- Štekauer, P (2000). Rudiments of English Linguistics. p. 111.