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Lexicogenesis (the creation of completely new words) in the English language, between the year 2000 and the present day, is primarily driven by teenagers and adults under age 35, through text messaging, instant messaging, Twitter, and other varieties of short-format textual social networking. Due to character limits placed on these communication methods, and due to the fact that many people still pay a fixed price for every SMS they send or receive with their cell phones, lexical truncation has been used to accommodate conversation over such a medium. Adverbs, more than any other part of speech, receive this treatment. Below are numerous examples of words which have only emerged in their current form within the past approximate decade; each truncated word is functionally an exact synonym to the longer word on the left. Most of these words are now also in spoken use by members of the millennial generation, usually pronounced phonetically, but almost always understood to be identical in meaning to their source words.

This list is by no means complete, and new words continue to be created this way.

Very - V (pronounced /ve/ or /vɛː/, ultimately a variety of r-dropping in spoken use)

Pretty (as "somewhat," not as "attractive") - P (pronounced /pɚ/ or /pɹə/ when placed before another word, such as "p much" or "p cool")

Obviously - Obvs

Literally - Lit, Lits, Lt, Lts

Probably - Probs, Prbly

Totally - Totes

Forever - Forevs

Definitely - Def

Naturally - Natch, Ntly

Generally - Gen, Genr, Gnly

Especially - Esp, Espc, Spesh

Ridiculous, Ridiculously - Ridic

Legitimate, Legitimately - Legit (This one in particular has been in use since at least the 1990s, popularized by MC Hammer in his album Too Legit to Quit.)

Several non-adverbs receive similar treatment, but in most adjectival instances, the same truncated word would also be used for the adverbial equivalent word:

Marvelous, Marvelously - Marv

Adorable, Adorably - Adorbs, Dorbs

Decent, Decently - Dec, Deec (both pronounced /dis/, not /dik/)

Amazing, Amazingly - Amaze, Amaz

Perfect, Perfectly - Perf

Awkward, Awkwardly - Awk

Situation - Sitch

Details - Deets

Whatever - Whatevs

Favourite - Fav (Use long predates text messaging, but pre-2000 use typically spells it fave.)

People - Peeps (another example in use since no later than the 1990s; its meaning is also somewhat more specific than the general meaning of people. Peeps generally are one's personal social circle, not wider society.)

The most common accepted word for these abbreviations is abbrev, which demonstrates its own meaning.

In the case of totes, it is probable that the truncated word arose first in spoken language, before being transferred to the character-limited text format; the same likely applies to other abbrevs which follow the same phonological and morphological rules of reducing a stress-initial polysyllabic word to a single syllable ending in a fricative. This is the case for deec, adorbs, sitch, forevs, natch, lits, spesh, and marv, but obvs almost certainly surfaced first in text, due to the English phonological resistance against placing a labial fricative such as /v/ ahead of a sibilant fricative such as /z/ or /s/. Even in spoken use, obvs gets clipped to obv, obs, or obvi.


Iron Noder 2015, 15/30

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