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From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 14:17:44 +1100 (EST)
To: WAI Interest Group <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.SOL.4.10.10002211409070.5809-100000@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
This issue has been discussed before. The main conclusion has been that
the difference between abbreviations and acronyms is not particularly
important--both HTML elements will produce the same effect when rendered,
for instance, by a speech-based browser. As I understand it, both elements
were included in order to cover the full range of cases (both
abbreviations and acronyms) and not to enforce a distinction between these

Thus, I would argue that one should use whichever seems most appropriate
in a particular context and that the distinction is rather immaterial for
practical purposes. As a matter of definition, I would maintain that "W3C"
is an abbreviation, as it is not a "word" (it can not be pronounced as a
word but only spelled out, and hence doesn't qualify as an acronym).
However, if an author were to label it, in HTML markup, as an acronym
rather than an abbreviation, I wouldn't care, and nor, to my knowledge,
would anyone else, except perhaps as a basis for mounting pedantic (though
intellectually interesting, to be sure) arguments concerning the
difference between the two concepts.

In effect, both ABBR and ACRONYM identify particular terms as special:
they may be spelled out by speech synthesizers, marked as technical terms
for purposes of spelling checkers and, perhaps, search engines; a TITLE
may be provided, under which circumstances it may be rendered by the
browser instead of the abbreviation/acronym (in speech-based environments
especially), and so on.
Received on Sunday, 20 February 2000 22:19:34 UTC

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