[whatwg] whatwg Digest, Vol 33, Issue 90 (Krzysztof ?elechowski)
sam.kuper at uclmail.net
Wed Dec 12 16:43:40 PST 2007
From the Oxford English Dictionary online (accessed today):
initialism: "The use of initials; a significative group of initial
letters. Now spec. a group of initial letters used as an abbreviation
for a name or expression, each letter or part being pronounced
separately (contrasted with ACRONYM)."
acronym: "A word formed from the initial letters of other words. Hence
as v. trans., to convert into an acronym (chiefly pass. and as pa.
This is concordant with my understanding is that in English at least,
acronyms and initialisms are abbreviations, but not vice versa. That
is, the set of English acronyms is a subset of the set of English
Whether or not this is true of Polish, it should not be asserted of
English. A multilingual standard should accommodate the existing
practice and terminology of the languages to which it applies; it
should not attempt to re-define those practices or terminologies.
(If you are not convinced, then consider this analogy: should the HTML
spec have insisted that all languages marked up in HTML be written
from left to right, using characters called 'a', 'b', 'c', etc?)
Sorry to make the point so strongly.
On 12/12/2007, Krzysztof Żelechowski <giecrilj at stegny.2a.pl> wrote:
> You may be right but this theory seems to be very specific to the
> English language. For example, you silently assume that "URL" is an
> abbreviation; acronyms like "ZUS" or "PKO" are not considered to be
> abbreviations in Polish. The term "initialism" is stranger to HTML so
> this distinction is essential for academic linguistic papers only;
> Aspell does not even recognise this word. However, the distinction
> between an acronym and an abbreviation is clear and intuitive.
> Dnia 12-12-2007, Śr o godzinie 22:29 +0000, Sam Kuper pisze:
> > 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
> > 'HTML'...
> > 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/Acronym_and_initialism)
> > Best regards,
> > Sam
> > > ---------- 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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