Research Article

Clipping of Borrowings in Spoken Arabic


  • Reima Al-Jarf Full Professor of English and Translation Studies, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


Clipping is a word formation process in which a word is reduced/shortened to one of its parts as in exam, math, grad, lab, Sue while still retaining the same meaning and same part of speech. Clipping is classified into: (i) Initial clipping: phone (telephone), net (Internet); (ii) Medial clipping: fancy (fantasy), ma'am (madam); (iii) back clipping: exam, fax, doc, gym; (iv) Complex clipping: chem bot (chemistry-botany), ed psych (educational psychology). In Arabic, single word clipping of native words is limited (عائش, يوسفي ،خال، بيدة ، بندق), whereas compound word clipping is more common in names of people, countries, cities, airlines, universities, courses, rivers, airlines, hospitals, and others. This study explores clipped borrowings (loan words) used in Spoken Arabic with no clipped, reduced, or shortened forms in English or French. It also aims to classify clipped borrowings, identify the most common type, and explains why Arabic speakers clip borrowings. Results revealed 5 types of borrowings: (1) back clipping of single words and compound (70%) as in aluminum > ألومنيا، الومنيو, Chevrolet شفر, centimeter سانتي, hypermarket هايبر, Intercontinental الأنتر, Facebook فيس, WhatsApp واتس, Casablanca كازا; (2) fore clipping (10%) as in album البوم; (3) medial clipping (11%) as in Alzheimer ازهايمر, cinema السيما, radio رادو; (4) complex clipping with phonological changes (9%) as in rickshaw >ricksha, Hollywood >hilyood; and (v) crasis as in workshop ورشة عمل, screwdriver سكروب). Such clippings are spontaneously created and used by educated and uneducated Arabs and those who do not know English. Students majoring in English, medicine, and pharmacy at King Saud University create their own clippings: Style (Stylistics); Semantic (Semantics); Contrastive (Contrastive Analysis); mid (midterm), cause (because), lap (laptop), pharma (pharmacy), ophtha (ophthalmology), pedia (pediatrics) which they sometimes use in their writing assignments. The students asserted that clipped forms are “cute, easy, and everybody is doing it”. They use them with other students in the same major. Instructors should draw students’ attention to student-created clippings that are ungrammatical, and to Arabic clipped borrowings that can only be used in spoken Arabic but not in English formal writing. Socio- and psycholinguistic reasons for clipped borrowings are given.

Article information


International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation

Volume (Issue)

6 (11)





How to Cite

Al-Jarf, R. (2023). Clipping of Borrowings in Spoken Arabic. International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation, 6(11), 68–76.



Clipping, shortening, truncation, reduction, clipped borrowings, fore clipping, medial clipping, back clipping