Abbreviated Style in Chinese With Reference to Place Names


  • Anthony C. Lister University of New Brunswick


Learners of Chinese are struck by the extreme brevity of the language. Classical written Chinese which was monosyllabic was even more concise than the modern language which is largely polysyllabic. Abbreviation in modern Chinese is commonly achieved by means of syllable ellipsis. However, polysyllabic words are not usually reduced to a single monosyllable unless the latter is joined to another monosyllable to form a new polysyllabic structure. Whilst brevity is a feature of classical Chinese, the mainly disyllabic nature of modern abbreviations is not.

The process of abbreviation is examined with particular reference to place names. On the whole, the first syllable of a polysyllabic name is retained whilst in Chinese abbreviations in general syllables are retained more according to semantic or stylistic considerations than to position. When polysyllabic names are reduced to monosyllables they are commonly joined to another syllable in a new disyllabic structure.



How to Cite

Lister, A. C. (1992). Abbreviated Style in Chinese With Reference to Place Names. Papers from the Annual Meetings of the Atlantic Provinces Linguistic Association (PAMAPLA) ACTES DES COLLOQUES ANNUELS DE L’ASSOCIATION DE LINGUISTIQUE DES PROVINCES ATLANTIQUES (ACAALPA)., 15, 64–72. Retrieved from

Conference Proceedings Volume


Papers / Présentations