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ABBR and ACRONYM

From: Thomas Dowling <tdowling@ohiolink.edu>
Date: Mon, 2 Feb 1998 08:10:25 -0500
Message-ID: <0cbf01bd2fdc$0da9e2f0$711e99c0@maroon.ohiolink.edu>
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Being new to the list, I don't want to cover ground that has been gone over
before, but thought I'd chip in another perspective on abbreviations and
acronyms.

In the library world, there's a standard reference work called the
_Acronyms, Abbreviations, and Initialisms Dictionary_.  As I recall its
introductory materials, it sets out definitions in which acronyms and
initialisms are both subsets of the larger body of abbreviations; as has
been pointed out, acronyms are pronounced as words (e.g. NASA and UNICEF)
and are created from the [usually] first letters of the words in a phrase.
Initialism is the term given to first-letter abbreviations that are
pronouned letter by letter (IBM and FBI).  The superset of abbreviations
includes shortenings that are typically pronounced as the word or phrase
they come from (the state of Wisc., Mr. Bob Smith, Jr., etc.); codes that
may have little relation to the word they stand for (travelers in the states
are familiar with ORD as the code for Chicago O'Hare Airport, the National
Weather Service code for Columbus, Ohio is CMH and so on); abbreviations of
phrases in one language used for words in another (English language use of 2
lb. 6 oz.) and other miscellany.

This makes it seem to me that an ACRONYM element is superfluous with a more
general ABBR element, and incomplete without it.

Thomas Dowling
OhioLINK - Ohio Library and Information Network
tdowling@ohiolink.edu
Received on Monday, 2 February 1998 08:11:35 GMT

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