Assorted truncations

This is a follow-up to/on my last posting, which discussed an example showing both eggcorning and preposition absorption; my take-off point here is the P absorption in “which one you have become accustomed” ‘which one you have become accustomed to’ and the like.

I was reminded of other truncation cases that you might think of as “particle absorption”, as in “was chewed” ‘was chewed out’. I looked at the chew case (and some other Prt absorption examples) in a Language Log posting back in February. And now some rather different cases have come my way: this time the truncations are within nouns based on verbs — nouns of the form V + X, where X is P or Prt.

First, in e-mail from Victor Steinbok, a feature of the Cambridge police report in the police/Gates episode back in July. What Victor noticed was that throughout the report the noun used for the suspected burglary was not break-in, but plain break.

This makes break-in like break-out, as in prison break / prison break-out (where the briefer version is certain more frequent). In any case, the in and out here are Ps. In the composite nouns, the Ps perform the function of into and out of in phrases; in a break-in, someone breaks into something, and in a break-out, someone breaks out of something.

Here are examples (both from Braintree, Mass.) that suggest how truncated break might have arisen:

Aug 28, 2009 … Police investigated breaks into three motor vehicles on Hollis Avenue, Hollingsworth Avenue, and Wyman Road … (link)

Two breaks into same home investigated. (link)

“Break-ins into three motor vehicles” and “two break-ins into same home”  have all the standard parts (and there are plenty of hits for break-in(s) into), but might well sound repetitious to some people.

The second case (of the noun follow ‘follow-up’) came to me from Danny Bloom a couple of weeks ago. This is, apparently, a truncation of the V + Prt noun to plain V, though it could be seen as a direct conversion of the V follow to a N meaning ‘follow-up’. In any case this N follow shares some syntax with the composite N follow-up: in particular, it has PP complements with to and on, as in these examples:

Byrnes and Choi might spring for the $50 “Wii Sports Resort,” a recently launched follow to the “Wii Sports” game that comes with the Wii and buoyed its popularity. (link)

Alec Greven may only be 10 years old, but he’s got lots of thoughts about how to talk to parents. So many, that as a follow to his book, “How to Talk to Girls,” he’s written two more: “How to Talk to Moms” and “How to Talk to Dads.” (link)

The Copenhagen document is a follow on the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol, which expires at the end of 2012. (link)

The D-436 engine was developed as a follow on the the Lotarev D-36. (link)

There are still more current uses of follow as a noun — one in basketball, one in Twitter usage, and probably more that I haven’t unearthed. (There are a few more nounings in OED2.)

2 Responses to “Assorted truncations”

  1. Jan Freeman Says:

    There’s also a noun use in journalism jargon — a folo (pronounced follow) is a follow-up story.

  2. Danny Bloom Says:

    To Jan Freeman: I heard of the use of folo in newspaper newsrooms, someone posted that note on a recent testycopyeditors.org thread: re the FOLO term. I wonder if the use of FOLO in newsrooms led to the use of “follow” (without the “up”) since reporters were already used the the FOLO term?

    Arnold, great post! The use of break instead of break-in in police blotters and crime stories is amazing. Language is so maleable! (spellcheck)….

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