When does a contraction become a word?

My model plane!Phil (The half of the team who isn’t off on holiday. Again): Writing something a couple of days ago, I typed the word “Plane”, this being the abbreviated form of “aeroplane” or “unnatural flying machine that any sensible person will agree will never work.”

I couldn’t decide if it should be plane or ‘plane.

Likewise, I have a tendency to type ‘phone and even, if I’m feeling particularly obstreperous, ‘fridge.

Sadly, I think I’m the last person in the world to think like this.

At what point did fridge, plane and phone become words and not just the truncated versions of refrigerator, aeroplane and telephone?

(Note: It may help if you imagine this post read in received pronunciation and probably by a gentleman wearing evening dress. Or tweed.)

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3 Comments

Filed under Phil, Writing

3 responses to “When does a contraction become a word?

  1. Christian

    Don’t forget your pipe and smoking jacket.

  2. Nick

    I’d say ‘phone, yes. ‘plane, maybe. ‘fridge, never, as it has contracted at both ends and become a separate word.

  3. Photo, pic, bus, loco-there are millions out there and as the English language belongs to us, the people, we can do just what we like with it! Here, in France, there is an academy of the great and good who try to keep the French language clean and pure and censure newspapers and magazines who step out of line especially if they use those nasty foreign words.

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