11.9 Summary of Contractions Used in Proper Names

Caution must be exercised when using contractions in proper names. Pronunciations vary widely, and if you do not know and cannot find out the correct pronunciation of a name, it may be best not to use a contraction. For example, which is correct: Fran/cone or Fran/co/ne? Be/vers or Bev/ers? (When in doubt, spell it out!)

An effort has been made to include in the following list and the word list given in Appendix B of this manual as many proper names as possible that typify problems that may be encountered. Biographical and geographical dictionaries giving known pronunciations for thousands of proper names are available in bookstores and libraries.

In general, all of the rules that you have learned in the preceding lessons apply to the use of contractions in proper names. In the following list, names have been grouped under the rule that governs the possible contractions in them. Some of the examples used could be applied to more than one rule.

A. Same Syllable Rule [X.34.a(1)]. When all of the letters of a contraction fall in the same syllable the contraction is used.

Wright Go/tham
Ben/tham Cor/inth
B. Minor Syllable Division Rule [X.34.a(2)]. Contractions are used when they overlap a minor syllable division.
Mac/e/do/nia Dun/e/din Re/no
Van/der/bilt Swe/den I/o/wa

C. Prefix with Base/Root Word Rule [X.34.b(2)(3)]. A contraction is not used when it would overlap a major syllable division between a prefix and a base or root word.

Ben/e/dict Van/dyke

D. Suffix with Base/Root Word Rule [X.34.b(2)]. A contraction is not used when it would overlap a major syllable division between a suffix and a base or root word.

Len/in/grad Stal/in/grad
Bun/des/tag Kungs/holm
Rud/is/heim Her/ges/heim/er

E. Solid (Unhyphenated) Compound Word Rule [X.34.b(4)]. A contraction is not used when it would overlap base words that are joined to form an unhyphenated compound word.

Charles/town Lime/dale

Note: Because the name Charlestown is a compound word, the st contraction cannot be used. However, in the easily recognized shortened form, Charleston, the st contraction is used. Other examples:


F. Hyphenated Compound Word Rule. Although Rule XI.36.a. says that one-cell, whole-word contractions may be joined to other words by the hyphen to form genuine hyphenated compound words, it is suggested that for clarity they not be used in hyphenated proper names.

Sue Packard-More

In the case of Chou En-lai, although there is no specific rule that would prevent the use of the part-word contraction for en, for clarity it is not used. ()

G. Digraph and Trigraph Rule [X.34.b(5), XIII.42.c]. Do not use a contraction if it would disturb the pronunciation of a digraph or trigraph.

Boone Fontainebleau

H. Diphthong Rule [V.25]. The letters comprising the diphthongs ae and oe should not form part of a contraction.

Phoenix Goering
Roederer Koenig
Baer Baedeker

I. Adjoining Consonants Rule [X.34.b(6)]. A contraction is not used when two adjoining consonants are pronounced separately.

Shanghai Gingold

J. Difficulty in Pronunciation Rule [X.34.b(7)]. Do not use a contraction or short-form word if it would cause difficulty in pronunciation.

Wen/ces/laus Port Sa/id
Ha/dri/an Cas/tle/reagh
The/rese Don/e/gal

K. gh, sh, th in Proper Names Rule [XII.38.e]. In proper names, when the letters gh, sh, and th are pronounced as one sound, they are contracted. If a syllable division occurs between them, they are not contracted.

Brig/ham Chat/ham
Chis/holm Town/shend

L. One-Cell Whole-Word Contraction Rule [XI. 36.c]. These contractions are used for whole proper names only and may be followed by an apostrophe and s.

Sandy Childs
Julia Child
Dan Rather's News Hour

M. One-Cell Part-Word Contraction Rule [XII.38.a, d]. The contractions for ing and ble cannot begin a name. Part-word signs that have no whole word meaning are contracted when they stand alone.

In/ge [or] Inge Blev/in Ed

N. to, into, by Rule [XIII.41.d]. These contractions cannot be used as proper names.

Colonel By David To

O. ea and the Double Letter Contractions Rule [XIII.42, 42.c]. These contractions are used only in the middle of a name. Preference is given to other contractions over ea and the double letter contractions.

Seattle Minneapolis
Sheffield Armageddon
Easter Island

P. be, con, dis Rule [XIII.43, 43.b]. As long as these contractions constitute a syllable, they are used following an apostrophe. They are also used for the first syllable of a name following a prefix such as Mac or Mc.

MacCon/nell Ber/ing Sea
O'Be/mis Dis/rae/li
Beh/ring Be/a/trice

Q. com Rule [XIII.44]. When com is capitalized, the contraction may be used in a name following Mac or Mc. The letters com need not form a syllable.

MacCommack Sam McComb

R. Initial-Letter Contraction Rule [XIV.45, 45.a]. These contractions are used in names only when they retain their original pronunciation and follow all other rules for initial-letter contractions.

Everett Mortimer Ca/pone
Beverly Houghton Germany
Dayton Her/mi/o/ne Mo/net

S. Final-Letter Contraction Rule [XV.46]. Use these contractions only in the middle or at the end of a name. They cannot be used for a whole name.

Lawrence Frances Sally
Tennessee Loch Ness

T. Short-Form Word Rule [XVI.47.b, 47.g]. Within proper names shortform words are used only for whole words.

Great Britain Jo Goodwin
Bisquick Little Bighorn

A letter sign (to be studied in the next lesson) is necessary if a name could be misread as a short-form word. [XVI.47.i]

El Al Al-Furat

Note: For readability, it is recommended that short-form words not be used in hyphenated compound proper names. Example:

Mary Good-Friend

Drill 22

Treat each numbered line as a new paragraph. Leave three blank cells between each word. Divide words at the end of the line where possible. Repeat this drill until you are comfortable with the short-form words and their variations.

Try the Drill in WESBraille.

Reading Practice

See print version in Appendix A.

[The format for brailled letters of correspondence will be studied in Lesson 13.]


Try the Exercise in WESBraille.


Initial- and Final-Letter Contractions
Short-Form Words

VI. Whole-Word Contractions (Initial- and final-letter contractions)

  1. Initial-letter contractions are used for whole words when they retain their original sound. They can be followed by punctuation.
    Mother's, here'll
  2. Final-letter contractions are never used for whole words.

VII. Part-Word Contractions (Initial- and final-letter contractions)

  1. Initial-letter contractions
    Can be used for part words only when they retain their original pronunciation.
    thunder spiritual
    Know and ought need not always retain original sound.
    acknowledge drought
    One is used anytime the letters o and n are in the same syllable.
    money component
    Some is used only when it forms a complete syllable in the base word.
    somebody blossomed
    Part need not retain original sound. Cannot be used if par is a prefix.
    partial partake
  2. Final-letter contractions
    1. Are used only in the middle or at the end of a word.
      elemental mental
      bless lesson
    2. Are used at the beginning of a line in a divided word.

    3. Are not used if they overlap a major syllable division.
      fruity citizeness
      equally totally
      lioness baroness
    4. Cannot follow an apostrophe or hyphen.
      'ounds re-ally
  3. Are not used if their use would cause difficulty in pronunciation or where two adjoining consonants are pronounced separately.

    fever-- fev(er) [not] f(ever)
    sword-- sword [not] s(word)
    mongoose-- mongoose [not] m(ong)oose

VIII. Contraction Preferences

Where a choice must be made between two alternative contractions, take the following steps. (Remember that these are general rules and that there are exceptions.)

  1. Use the contraction that saves the most space.
    pranced-- pr(ance)d [not] pranc(ed)whence-- (wh)(ence) [not] (wh)(en)ce
    bubble-- bub(ble) [not] bu(bb)le wither-- (with)(er) [not] wi(the)r
  2. Use the contractions for, and, for, of, the, and with in preference to any other contraction as long as no more space is required.
    coffee-- c(of)fee [not] co(ff)eemeander-- me(and)(er) [not] m(ea)nd(er)
    theater-- (the)at(er) [not] (th)(ea)t(er)effort-- ef(for)t [not] e(ff)ort
  3. Usually a one-cell contraction is used in preference to a two-cell contraction as long as no more space is required.
    phoned-- phon(ed) [not] ph(one)dadhered-- adh(er)(ed) [not] ad(here)d
    EXCEPTION: The two-cell ence contraction is preferred over a one-cell contraction so long as no more space is required.
    commenced-- (com)m(ence)d [not] (com)m(en)c(ed)
    fencer-- f(ence)r [not] f(en)c(er)
  4. Use any one-cell contraction in preference to ea or the double letter contractions.
    peddled-- p(ed)dl(ed) [not] pe(dd)l(ed)dear-- de(ar) [not] d(ea)r
  5. Use the contraction(s) that most closely approximates correct pronunciation.

    wherever-- (wh)(er)(ever) [not] (where)v(er)
    noblesse-- nob(less)e [not] no(ble)sse
    recreation-- recre(ation) [not] recr(ea)(tion)

  6. Do not use a contraction if it would obscure the recognition of an unfamiliar or coined word--even if more cells are required.

    where'er-- (wh)(er)e'(er) [not] (where)'(er)
    Mrs. Whatshername-- (Wh)atsh(er)(name) [not] (Wh)at(sh)(er)(name)

IX. Short-Form Words

  1. As Whole Words. Are used to represent whole words and whole names.

    I'll see little Tommy Friend at 3 o'clock this afternoon.

  2. As Part Words. Are used as parts of words so long as the original meaning is retained.
    aboveboard unnecessary
    belittled first-born
    immediately goodness
    1. Are not used when the letters of a short-form word do not retain their usual meaning and the use of the short form would obscure the recognition of the word.
      shoulder bloodletter
      mustache Port Said
    2. Are not used if their use would be in conflict with basic rules for contractions.
      preconceive hereinbefore
    3. Are not used in unusual words.


    4. Are never divided between braille lines, but may be separated from any added syllable.
    5. Are not used as part of a name.

      Jimmy Doolittle
      The Goodman Bros.

  3. Are used as parts of common words that are not regarded as proper names in the titles or headings of books, chapters, articles, or songs, and in the names of companies or organizations.
    The Greatest Train Ride
    Firsthand Clothing Co.
    Childrens Press
  4. The short forms for after, blind, and friend are used when followed by a consonant, but not when followed by a vowel --unless the vowel begins a line in a divided word.
    aftermath aftereffect after-

    blindness blinding blind-

    friendly befriended befriend-