[whatwg] whatwg Digest, Vol 33, Issue 90 (Krzysztof ?elechowski)

Sam Kuper sam.kuper at uclmail.net
Wed Dec 12 14:29:50 PST 2007

Dear Chris,

Your classifications are incorrect, as is your rule of thumb. The
following excerpt should clarify things:

"Initialism[s] originally described abbreviations formed from
initials, without reference to pronunciation. ... [Some people]
differentiate between the [terms 'acronym' and 'initialism'],
restricting 'acronym' to pronounceable words formed from the initial
letters of the constituent words, and using 'initialism' ... for
abbreviations pronounced as the names of the individual letters. In
the latter usage, examples of proper acronyms would be 'NATO' ... and
'radar' ..., while examples of initialisms would include 'FBI' ... and

There is no agreement on what to call abbreviations whose
pronunciation involves the combination of letter names and words, such
as 'JPEG' ... and 'MS-DOS' ... . These abbreviations are sometimes
described as acronym–initialism hybrids...

There is also no agreement as to what to call abbreviations that some
pronounce as letters and others pronounce as a word. For example, the
internet term 'URL' can be pronounced as individual letters or as a
single word."

(from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A​cronym_and_initialism)

Best regards,


> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Krzysztof Żelechowski <giecrilj at stegny.2a.pl>
> To: Ian Hickson <ian at hixie.ch>
> Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2007 22:20:56 +0100
> Subject: Re: [whatwg] whatwg Digest, Vol 33, Issue 90
> Dnia 12-12-2007, Śr o godzinie 08:59 +0000, Ian Hickson pisze:
> > Most people don't mark up abbreviations or acronyms at all, they only mark
> > them up at all to give the expansions generally. And for this purpose, it
> > doesn't really matter which is which (not to mention that different
> > people disagree on which is which -- I say "ess quere ell" and "ewe are
> > ell", others say "sequel" and "earl").
> "SQL" and "URL" are acronyms because they are built from initial
> letters.
> "Mr.", "Dr.", "Ch." and "cf." are abbreviations.
> "i.e." and "etc." are... er... abbreviations?
> Except for these cases, I hardly see any valid disagreement.  A rule of
> thumb is that abbreviations are usually written with a dot.
> Chris

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