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Re: Deprecate <accronym> (was: Brainstorming - abbreviations)

From: Marcos Caceres <m.caceres@qut.edu.au>
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2007 04:57:03 +1000
Message-ID: <b21a10670703261157k5b11ea7asee96998f39a23c1c@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Robert Brodrecht" <w3c@robertdot.org>
Cc: lee_roberts@roserockdesign.com, public-html@w3.org

FWIW, here is a published paper on acronyms, abbreviations and initialisms:

http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/links/doi/10.1046/j.1464-410x.2000.00717.x/pdf

Maybe it can be cited in future discussions. Interesting read for
anyone following this thread.
Marcos

On 3/27/07, Robert Brodrecht <w3c@robertdot.org> wrote:
>
>
> Lee Roberts said:
> >
> > Previous standards were confusing and confused about <acronym> and
> > <abbr>.
> >
> > As cited by Colin Lieberman:
> >
> > In HTML 4.01 :
> > ABBR:
> >     Indicates an abbreviated form (e.g., WWW, HTTP, URI, Mass., etc.).
> > ACRONYM:
> >     Indicates an acronym (e.g., WAC, radar, etc.).
> >
> > WWW as we all know represents World Wide Web.  How can this be an
> > abbreviation when clearly it is an acronym?  In the example, the only
> > two abbreviations that exist are Mass. and etc.; clearly Mass. is an
> > abbreviation for Massachusetts and etc. is an abbreviation for etcetera.
> > The remaining examples are acronyms.
> >
> > Acronymns do not need to make words.  Acronyms take letters from
> > multiple words to create a shortened character set.  WAC in the acronym
> > is not a word, however RADAR is.
> >
> > It would be best if we clear up confusions if we expect people to follow
> > the examples and standards.
> >
>
> I tend to agree with how you think of acronyms vs. abbreviations (though,
> I treat "et cetera" as two words, and thus use an acronym instead of an
> abbreviation, which is arguable, I suppose, since Latin didn't make use of
> spaces).  Technically, however, in the English language, "WWW", "HTTP",
> and the like are called "initialisms."  I cannot find a clear answer as to
> whether initialisms are acronyms or abbreviations.  I've always treated
> them as acronyms.  However, some sources say that acronyms are only
> shortenings of multiple words that form a new word (e.g. RADAR, LASER).
> In that case, there is an inherent ambiguity in certain abbreviations,
> like SQL, that are commonly both spelled out and said as a word (saying
> SQL as either "es que ell" or "sequel").  Depending on the author's
> preference, it could be an acronym or an abbreviation (if initialisms are
> not acronyms).
>
> That said, we still have two words in English grammar to describe the two
> types of word shortining (ignoring "initialism").  Despite the ambiguity
> in the language, there was enough of a reason to have both "abbreviation"
> and "acronym" to exist, not only as words in the English language, but in
> English grammar (the English metalanguage... the jargon about the English
> language).
>
> To me, for semantics in marking up English language documents, there is a
> significant difference between the two elements to warrant leaving the
> item in the HTML 5 specification.  I can't speak to other languages that
> use both.  There might be a better reason to keep two separate elements if
> another language is used.
>
> However, if <acronym> is kept, I would like to find a real, definitive
> definition of how "initialisms" work in relation to it, and clearly state
> that in the specification to avoid any further accusations about the
> ambiguity of the two elements.
>
> The other option, to me, is to drop <acronym> and change the semantic
> value of <abbr> to "a shorter version of a string" so that clever tricks
> like shortened date formats used in Microformats patterns are valid
> semantic uses of <abbr>.
>
> --
> Robert <http://robertdot.org>
>
>
>
>


-- 
Marcos Caceres
http://datadriven.com.au
Received on Monday, 26 March 2007 18:57:14 GMT

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