Does “fridge” mean the same thing as “refrigerator”? Distributional semantics and the meanings of clippings
This paper uses corpus data and methods of distributional semantics in order to study English clippings such as dorm (< dormitory), memo (< memorandum), or quake (< earthquake). We investigate whether systematic meaning differences between clippings and their source words can be detected. The analysis is based on a sample of 50 English clippings. Each of the clippings is represented by a concordance of 100 examples in context that were gathered from the Corpus of Contemporary American English. We compare clippings and their source words both at the aggregate level and in terms of comparisons between individual clippings and their source words. The data show that clippings tend to be used in contexts that represent involved text production, which aligns with the idea that
clipped words signal familiarity with their referents. It is further observed that individual clippings and their source words partly diverge in their distributional profiles, reflecting both overlap and differences with regard to their meanings. We interpret these findings against the theoretical background of Construction Grammar and specifically the Principle of No Synonymy.