An abbreviation (Etymology: from the past participle of Late Latin abbreviāre, from Latin brevis brief) is a shortened form of a word or phrase. Usually, but not always, it consists of a letter or group of letters taken from the word or phrase. For example, the word abbreviation can itself be represented by the abbreviation abbr., abbrv. or abbrev.
Nowadays there are many conceptions of the definition of abbreviations offered by linguists.
According to J. Buranov abbreviations consist of the first letters of a word group or a compound word (USA, BBC, NATO, UNO) or the component of a two-member word group (V. Day — Victory Day, H (hydrogen) — bomb) is shortened.
O. Muminov has defined that abbreviation is achieved by omission of letters from one or more parts of the whole. So, we can find abbreviations of days of week, e.g. Mon — Monday, Tue — Tuesday etc.; names of month, e.g. Apr — April, Aug — August etc; names of counties in UK, e.g. Yorks — Yorkshire, Berks — Berkshire etc; names of states in USA, e.g. Ala — Alabama, Alas — Alaska etc; names of address, e.g. Mrs., Mr., Ms., Prof., Dr., Gen., Rep., Sen., St. (Saint); military ranks, e.g. capt. — captain, col. — colonel, sgt — sergeant etc.; scientific degrees, e.g. B. A. — Bachelor of Arts, D. M. — Doctor Medicine (sometimes in scientific degrees we have abbreviations of Latin origin, e.g., M. B. — Medicinae Baccalaurus); units of time, length, weight (or terms of mathematical units), e.g. f. / ft — foot/feet, sec. — second, in. — inch, mg.- milligram etc; 15 ft, 15 in., 15 kg, 15 m. The reading of some graphical abbreviations depends on the context, e.g. «m» can be read as: male, married, meter, mile, million, minute, «l. p.» can be read as long-playing, low pressure.
R. S. Ginzburg in her definition classified abbreviations into graphical and lexical one. The graphical abbreviations are, in fact, signs representing words and word groups of high frequency of occurrence in various spheres of human activity; for instance, RD for Road and ST for Street in addresses on envelop and in letters; tu fortube, aer for aerial in radio engineering literature, etc. English graphical abbreviations include rather numerous shortened variants of Latin and French words and word-groups, e.g. a.m. (L. ante merideim) — ‘in the morning, before noon’; p.m. (L. post meridiem) — ‘in the afternoon, afternoon’; i.e. (L. id est) — ‘that is’; R.S.V.P. (Fr. Répondez s`il vous plaît) — ‘reply please’, etc.
The following may serve as examples of such abbreviations: CBW = chemical and biological warfare, DOD = Department of Defense (of the USA), ITV = Independent Televisions, Instructional Televisions, SST = supersonic transport, etc. It should be remembered that the between letter abbreviations and true acronyms is fluid and many letter abbreviations in the course of time may turn into regular vocabulary units. Occasionally letter abbreviations are given ‘pronunciation spelling’ as for instance de jay (= D.J. = disc jockey), emcee (= M. C. = master of ceremonies) in which case they tend to pass over into true acronyms.
The characteristic feature of graphical abbreviation is that they 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 being usually read as their English equivalents. 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 lexical abbreviations used both in oral and written speech. That is the case, for instance, with MP = Member of Parliament, S.O.S. = Save our Souls, etc.
Lexical abbreviations are formed by a simultaneous operation of shortening and compounding, which accounts for the Russian term сложно — сокращённые слова universally applied to them in Modern linguistic literature. They are made up of the initial sounds or syllables of the components of a word-group or a compound word usually of a terminological character.
Almost all linguists have the same attitude toward the abbreviations in general. It means that the definitions of the term abbreviation are very close to each linguist’s conceptions. But in spite of this every scientist can add something new and special in their understanding of this term.
I.V. Arnold in her definition of abbreviation has the same opinion with the other explores of the language, but she adds some exact information to show the theme wider.
I. V Arnold noticed that abbreviations are used to economize the space and effort in written form. Abbreviations is achieved by omission of letters from one or more parts o whole, or instance, bldg. for building, govt for governmental. In this his definition the abbreviations closely connect with the other type of the shortening which is called clipping. He could also divide all abbreviations into some groups according to their features.
According to her definition abbreviations are divided into those which are pronounced as an English word and will be read like one. They are called acronyms. And those which are the opposite sub-groupand those which are in the opposite sub-group and have the alphabetic reading. They are called initial abbreviations. And in connection with thistype we can define the special type of abbreviations in which the first element is a letter and the second is a complete word. The examples are: A-terror, A-bomb, etc. Arnold in difference to Muminov and Buranov includes them to the special type of initial abbreviations.
V. I. Zabotkina thinks that it is also important to see spheres of usage of the abbreviations, because they are limited. For example, MIPS, RAM (random-access memory), ROM (read-only memory) are only used in computer technique; MEDLARS (Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System) — in medicine, etc. Sometimes acronyms are created in order to make it original, for example, organization, struggling against smoking, created acronym ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), NOW (National Organization for Women)
The types of abbreviations will be further discussed in other paragraphs.
A lot of scientists have investigated this theme and have different conceptions. Generally, the abbreviations of words have their own features. A lot of linguists who work on this theme defined that the abbreviation of words consists in clipping a part of a word, i.e. they It means that the definitions of abbreviations are divided into two directions. Some linguists J. Buranov, Z. Tukhtaxojaeva, I. Arnold, and R.S. Ginzburg consider abbreviations differ from clipping and think that they must be studied almost as different types of word formation. But others consider that all forms of shortenings are included in one group of abbreviations that was said before by O. Muminov.
As a result, we get a new lexical unit where either the lexical meaning or the style is different form the full form of the word. In such cases as "fantasy" and "fancy", "fence" and "defence" we have different lexical meanings. In such cases as "laboratory" and "lab", we have different styles.
Abbreviation does not change the part-of-speech meaning, as we have it in the case of conversion or affixation, it produces words belonging to the same part of speech as the primary word, e.g. prof is a noun and professor is also a noun. Mostly nouns undergo abbreviation, but we can also meet abbreviation of verbs, such as to rev from to revolve, to tab from to tabulate etc. But mostly abbreviated forms of verbs are formed by means of conversion from abbreviated nouns, e.g. to taxi, to vac etc. Adjectives can be abbreviated but they are mostly used in school slang and are combined with suffixation, e.g. comfy, dilly, missy etc. As a rule, pronouns, numerals, interjections. conjunctions are not abbreviated.