W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > January to March 1998

RE: ABBR and ACRONYM

From: Matthew Lye <mlye@trentu.ca>
Date: Fri, 30 Jan 98 15:21:13 -0500
Message-Id: <199801302021.PAA25960@spartan.ac.BrockU.CA>
To: "Joe Roeder" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
On 1/30/1998 02:28 PM, Joe Roeder wrote:

>In my experience, there are no universal rules here.  Some
>abbreviations/acronyms are more understandable when parsed (spelled out)
>and others are not.  When people read text aloud, they will usually
>choose one or the other according to which result is more
>understandable.  For the most part they are following conventions rather
>thatn firm rules.  For example, everyone will pronounce "ROM" as a word
>but spell out "IBM".

Yes.  I didn't express it too well, but that's what I meant when I 
originally said the problem was 'neat'.  It's possible that those 
distinctions are generated purely by conformative usage, but I wonder if 
there are cadence 'rules' (heuristic) to speech in a given language that 
guide the selection.  The problem is complicated by the fact that it used 
to be normative for acronyms to be spelt out, and that acronyms now tend 
to be chosen (to the point of silliness) so that they can be spoken as a 
word.  But when people spell out acronyms, they often vocalize them 'in 
quotes', as it were, if the names are new or not normally pronounced that 
way;  IBM, in contrast, is pronounced normally as three short words.  It 
may just be the prejudice of usage, but I have trouble thinking that 
sentences such as "Today, Ib'm announced that..." flow as well as "Today, 
eye be-em announced..."

The matter could come down to a fairly simple rhythmic-consistency rule, 
with a bias towards the shortest means of expression...
Received on Friday, 30 January 1998 15:21:25 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0+W3C-0.50 : Tuesday, 19 July 2011 18:13:38 GMT