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Re: ABBR vs. ACRONYM

From: David Norris <dave@webaugur.com>
Date: Sun, 20 Feb 2000 06:48:08 +0000
Message-ID: <38AF8E28.BD5C9869@webaugur.com>
To: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>
CC: "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <unagi69@concentric.net>, WAI Interest Group Emailing List <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Kynn Bartlett wrote:
> I haven't found anything in the HTML spec that references the Mirriam-
> Webster dictionary as a definitive source for HTML element definitions.

However, one of the first statements in the HTML specs 'cover/toc' is
that the English version is the normative reference.  This implies that
perhaps it follows English rules.  M-W can be considered an
authoritative English reference by many.  If the specs follow English
rules then it is natural to expect an English authority to be a
definitive source.  Perhaps, there is a misunderstanding as to what we
are calling English (see below).

> No, they're not.  Do you say "en ay tee oh"?  All of the examples you
> site for acronyms _are_ pronounced as words.

I do not.  However, I do not (likely could not) pronounce TAOCP.  It
isn't an abbreviation, and, it fits the definition of acronym given by
many authoritative English references.

> Is English your primary language?

Yes, I natively speak American English.  Is English the primary language
of all of the HTML spec authors?  Which English dialect(s)?  This may
have something to do with why we all have this ABBR vs. ACRONYM
blood-letting every 6 months or so.

> word -- such as acronym -- are necessarily going to be contained
> within the dictionary definition.

Perhaps there is some level of clarity missing in that definition.

> PS:  Here's a dictionary that has the same definition as me:
> http://www.cup.cam.ac.uk/elt/dictionary/default.asp?String=acronym%2A1%2B0&ACT=SELECT

Ah, you bring up an excellent point!  This very same dictionary defines
acronym differently for the two most popular dialects of English. 
American English (which I speak), according to your Cambridge
dictionary, does not specify that acronyms must be pronounceable. 
International English does specify them to be pronounceable.  I do not
believe this is an oversight; it appears that they went to some trouble
to specify the difference.

-- 
,David Norris
  Open Server Architecture Project - http://www.opensa.org/
  Dave's Web - http://www.webaugur.com/dave/
  ICQ Universal Internet Number - 412039
  E-Mail - dave@webaugur.com
Received on Sunday, 20 February 2000 01:48:43 GMT

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