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Re: ABBR vs. ACRONYM

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Sun, 20 Feb 2000 12:12:00 -0500 (EST)
To: David Norris <dave@webaugur.com>
cc: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>, "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <unagi69@concentric.net>, WAI Interest Group Emailing List <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.20.0002201155080.18938-100000@tux.w3.org>
Abbreviation and acronym in enlglish mean different things, along the lines
laid out below.

The HTML specification unfortunately does not seem to be clear about any
difference between these elements except that one is used for abbreviations
and the other is used for acronyms (This is specified). In particular, the
examples given do not demonstrate any particular difference. I suggest that
the Protocols and Formats group, which does formal review of HTML
specifications, be asked (by whom? I am a member of PF so I can raise it
there. I guess that will do) to review the use of acronym and abbr elements,
and suggest to the HTML working group that either there be a foraml
specification of the difference, or one of them be deprecated.

As to the formal definitions, Webster follows traditional usage. I would
direct the interested reader to the Oxford English dictionary, or some other
good, etymologically sound reference. Basically, Acronym is greek, and means
something made from initial letters and abbreviation is french and means
something that has been shortened. In terms of what this means for HTML, I
don't think it is important enough to be relevant. The mnemonic effect of
element names that are related to english words is wasted on most authors,
who either don't see the markup itself or don't speak english natively
anyway.

Charles McCN



On Sun, 20 Feb 2000, David Norris wrote:

  Kynn Bartlett wrote:
  > 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.
  
  I have always been under the impression that HTML is normalized to the
  English language.  I believe the HTML spec references this, as well.  As
  such, Merriam Webster (http://www.m-w.com/) defines those two terms as
  such:
  
  ac·ro·nym
      : a word (as NATO, radar, or snafu) formed from the initial letter
  or letters of each of the successive parts or major parts of a compound
  term.
  
  ab·bre·vi·a·tion
    1 : the act or result of abbreviating : ABRIDGMENT
    2 : a shortened form of a written word or phrase used in place of the
  whole <amt is an abbreviation for amount>
  
  Neither of those definitions make reference to pronunciation.  The
  examples cited by Merriam Webster are in direct conflict with your
  examples cited previously.
  
  -- 
  ,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
  

--
Charles McCathieNevile    mailto:charles@w3.org    phone: +61 (0) 409 134 136
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative                      http://www.w3.org/WAI
Location: I-cubed, 110 Victoria Street, Carlton VIC 3053
Postal: GPO Box 2476V, Melbourne 3001,  Australia 
Received on Sunday, 20 February 2000 12:12:05 GMT

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