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Re: Question on abbreviations (fwd)

From: Matt May <mcmay@bestkungfu.com>
Date: Thu, 28 Dec 2000 10:42:53 -0800
Message-ID: <012d01c070fe$0d10e8f0$6401a8c0@sttln1.wa.home.com>
To: "Al Gilman" <asgilman@iamdigex.net>, "Charles McCathieNevile" <charles@w3.org>, "Anne Pemberton" <apembert@crosslink.net>
Cc: "WAI GL" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
----- Original Message -----
From: "Anne Pemberton" <apembert@crosslink.net>

> Expanding an abbreviation or acronym one time in a page/document is
> insufficient for the user, no matter how onerous the task or expanding it.
> I would prefer to see the rule state that every time an abbreviation or
> acronym is used, it was exapandable by the user. Actually, I would prefer
> that people use acronyms sparingly, if at all, to make it clear what they
> mean.

Acronyms and abbreviations really aren't that easy to create simple rules
I dug out my AP Stylebook for this discussion. The Associated Press has a
series of rules for acronyms and abbreviations, some of which should be
mentioned here. (Perhaps all of them should be mentioned, since every
American news site uses AP Style and repurposes AP content...)

There are certain acronyms which are used in journalism on first reference
because they are more widely recognized than the terms they represent, or
are presumed to be meaningless to the reader if they were to be expanded,

Some abbreviations are a part of proper names, and shouldn't be expanded
(St. Louis).

This is just a sampling of the kind of ruleset the English language has for
acronyms and abbreviations. A simple rule simply won't do. To say that every
abbreviation must be expandable in every instance suggests that one would
need to expand "OK," which is the #1 most recognized term in the world.
Okay, I'm reaching. But my point is that we shouldn't be creating rules for
content providers who know better when it comes to the actual application of
the language.

My vote would be to recommend glossaries for terms introduced or used in the
document, until technology allows for more meaningful lookup. I think that,
ultimately, a dictionary server will need to be created to satisfy this
requirement, since applying definitions on a site-by-site or
document-by-document basis is bound to result in dozens or hundreds of
definitions for the same term.

matt may
Received on Thursday, 28 December 2000 13:43:07 UTC

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