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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Quote vs. Quotation, Invite vs. Invitation by Maeve Maddox

Quote vs. Quotation, Invite vs. Invitation

One of my college professors insisted that quote is a verb andquotation is a noun and never the twain shall meet. For example, a writer quotes from an author, but the quoted material is a quotation, never “a quote.”
Although I still observe the distinction in my own writing, I have become aware that both the OED and Merriam-Webster recognize the use of quote as a noun.
Most English words ending in -tion have French cognates, for example:informationconfirmation, and position. Such words came into English in the Middle Ages from French. In M.E. the ending of these French borrowings was spelled -cioun; later the ending came to be spelled -tion in both languages.
Through the centuries, many -tion words have lost their endings, and more are in the process of doing so.
English words ending in -tion tend to lose the suffix when the first part of the word retains the word’s meaning without it.
Here are some shortened -tion nouns that have become accepted into standard English:
quote from quotation
ID or I.D. from identification
insert from insertion
Here are some that the OED still labels colloquial or slang:
invite from invitation 
info from information 
admin from administration
prep from preparation
promo from promotion (in the sense of publicity)
ammo from ammunition
NOTE: M-W does not agree with OED on all of the shortened -tion words. For example, while M-W labels the noun invite “chiefly dialectal,” it admits ammoas a standard word. OED does not have an entry for specs with the meaningspecifications, but M-W has.
Many speakers cringe when they hear or read invite used as a noun, but the tendency to drop -tion when the rest of the word is sufficiently meaningful without it, is strong in English. I may not like hearing invite used as a noun, but enough speakers use it that way for it to make a comeback. Yes, comeback:
1659   H. L’Estrange Alliance Divine Offices 326   Bishop him an earnest invite to England. –OED documentation.
A second tendency with -tion words that I find it difficult to accept with equanimity concerns verbs.
The function of the suffix -tion is to change a verb into a noun:examine/examinationlocate/locationconverse/conversation,interpret/interpretation.
Some speakers, however, perhaps because they are not familiar with the underlying verb, create a new verb via back formation. For these speakers,orientation become orientateinterpretation becomes interpretate, andconversation becomes conversate.
NOTE: Back-formation is the formation of what looks like a root-word from an already existing word which might be (but is not) a derivative of the former.
Of the words I just listed, orientate has become standard in British English, but it is still regarded as nonstandard in American English. Interpretate does appear in the OED, but it is labelled “rare or obsolete”; the most recent example of its use is dated 1866.

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