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ABBR vs. ACRONYM

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Sat, 19 Feb 2000 19:47:17 -0800
Message-Id: <4.2.0.58.20000219193413.0198e1e0@mail.idyllmtn.com>
To: "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <unagi69@concentric.net>
Cc: WAI Interest Group Emailing List <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
A diversion, wherein Gregory and Kynn, two web goofballs, argue
pointlessly about trivia related to markup.

At 07:20 PM 2/19/2000 , Gregory J. Rosmaita wrote:
>with all due respect, terms such as HTML, WAI, W3C, MIT, HWG, and other similar conflations cited in your reply to ann on the WAI-IG list are acronyms, not abbreviations, and should be marked up accordingly...

This is a point of contention. :)  I don't know if there is an
official ruling on what constitutes an ACRONYM and what constitutes
an ABBR, is there?

In my opinion, something that is pronounced as a word is an ACRONYM,
something that is spelled out as letters is not an ACRONYM.  Any
shortened form of a word that is not an ACRONYM is an ABBR.

E.g., "MIT" is pronounced "em eye tee", so it is an ABBR; "WAI" is
sometimes pronounced "way" and sometimes pronounced "dubya ay eye",
so it can be either; "AWARE" is pronounced "uh ware" and never
"ay dubya ay are ee", so it's an ACRONYM.

The spec for HTML 4.01 lists elements and includes the following
description for ABBR, which supports my interpretation and not
yours:

http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/index/elements.html

ABBR    abbreviated form (e.g., WWW, HTTP, etc.)

In the description of the two elements, the following is stated:

http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/struct/text.html#edef-ABBR

ABBR:
Indicates an abbreviated form (e.g., WWW, HTTP, URI, Mass., etc.).
ACRONYM:
Indicates an acronym (e.g., WAC, radar, etc.).

WCAG 1.0, however, offers an example that supports YOUR interpretation
and not MINE:

http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT-TECHS/#text-abbr

Example.
    <P>Welcome to the <ACRONYM title="World Wide Web">WWW</ACRONYM>!

I submit that the WCAG Techniques document is out of spec with the
HTML 4.01 document, and HTML 4.01 should be considered definitive --
and the Techniques example changed from ACRONYM to ABBR!  Clearly,
according to the definitive reference for HTML, "WWW" is an ABBR
not an ACRONYM.

In real world usage, an ACRONYM would be considered a specific
type of ABBReviation.  I -believe- that the reason we have both
is that they are both ways of conveying the semantic meaning "this
is an abbreviated form of something," but ACRONYM has the additional
-presentational- meaning of "...and pronounce this text as a word,
not as a string of letters."

That's how I think they should be used -- and thus I think you're
wrong in saying HWG, W3C, or HTML should be marked up with ACRONYM.


-- 
Kynn Bartlett                                    mailto:kynn@hwg.org
President, HTML Writers Guild                    http://www.hwg.org/
AWARE Center Director                          http://aware.hwg.org/
Received on Saturday, 19 February 2000 22:53:28 GMT

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