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From: Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2000 14:55:37 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: (wrong string) érrez y Restrepo <sinarmaya@retemail.es>
Cc: WAI Interest Group Emailing List <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
aloha, emmanuelle!

i couldn't agree with you more -- there is a definite need for _both_ ABBR 
and ACRONYM, as well as a definite need to clarify, in the HTML 4x spec, 
what exactly is meant by an abbreviation and what is meant by an acronym in 
the context of HTML...

as i wrote in an earlier post, i believe that the distinction meant by the 
authors of the HTML 4x spec is that an abbreviation is a shortened form of 
a _single_ word, whilst an acronym is a compound contraction of more than 
one word, and that it is _not_ necessary for that compound contraction to 
be pronounceable as a word in order for it to earn designation as an acronym...

why is there a need for the distinction?  aside from the linguistic 
argument that acronyms and abbreviations are quite different animals, there 
is the question of user-configurability...

as a speech user, i personally would probably choose to have the TITLE for 
any ABBR defined for a page spoken, while leaving anything marked up as an 
ACRONYM in its compact form, so that, if i were confused as to what a 
particular acronym meant, i could use a screen review command to have the 
TITLE associated with the ACRONYM announced...  others might configure 
their systems in the opposite manner (ignore ABBR but expand ACRONYM) while 
others might prefer that both be automatically expanded or that both be 
read in their compact form...

in any event, the choice of whether to expand or not expand should be the 
end-user's; authors should be encouraged to use ABBR and ACRONYM; and the 
editors of the HTML spec should be advised of the internal inconsistencies 
in the spec's definition of ABBR and ACRONYM, and asked to provide a 


At 08:09 PM 2/22/00 +0100, Emmanuelle wrote:
>I believe that none of both should be eliminated. In Spanish the distinction
>between acronym and abbreviation is very clear. I believe that if a person
>doesn't understand this distinction and she finds the possibility to use an
>or another form in HTML, this will make him to investigate which is the
>difference, one can also put on an example that clarifies the terms and that
>helps the user to choose in what moment to use an or another form.
>The HTML is not only used to create pages in English.
>On the other hand, in Internet Explorer when in a page there is an
>identified acronym as such, if the pointer of the mouse is placed on him its
>definition it can be read, that which doesn't happen with the abbreviations.
>And this is logical because the abbreviations are of common use in a
>language, and on the other hand the same acronym can mean different things
>according to the environment in which is using, for example, the same
>acronym can mean something different in medicine that in architecture.
>I think. :-)
>Emmanuelle Gutiérrez y Restrepo
>mailto: coordina@sidar.org
>----- Original Message -----
>From: McDonald, Ira <imcdonald@sharplabs.com>
>To: 'Karl Ove Hufthammer' <huftis@bigfoot.com>; WAI Interest Group Emailing
>List <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
>Sent: Monday, February 21, 2000 9:53 PM
>Subject: RE: ABBR vs. ACRONYM
>Hi folks,
>I agree with Karl's suggestion (below) to keep ABBR and delete entirely
>(from HTML) ACRONYM.  The word 'abbreviation' may be within the limited
>vocabulary of a speaker of English as a second language.  But 'acronym'
>is FAR outside such a vocabulary.
>Jargon and limited-use definitions defeat communication.
>The IETF, ISO, ITU-T and other international standards bodies have always
>followed the principle of using words with their *most common* definition:
>a) to facilitate understanding by persons with limited vocabulary; and
>b) to ensure accurate translations of standards texts.
>- Ira McDonald (consulting architect at Sharp Labs America)
>   High North Inc
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Karl Ove Hufthammer [mailto:huftis@bigfoot.com]
>Sent: Monday, February 21, 2000 7:51 AM
>To: WAI Interest Group Emailing List
>Subject: Re: ABBR vs. ACRONYM
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Charles McCathieNevile" <charles@w3.org>
>To: "Emmanuelle Gutiérrez y Restrepo" <sinarmaya@retemail.es>
>Cc: "Ann Navarro" <ann@webgeek.com>; "Kynn Bartlett"
><kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>; "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <unagi69@concentric.net>;
>"WAI Interest Group Emailing List" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
>Sent: Sunday, February 20, 2000 11:24 PM
>Subject: RE: ABBR vs. ACRONYM
> > Acronym and abbreviation add something very important that is completely
> > lacking in span - information about what kind of information is being
> > out (specifically, something that is an abbreviation or an acronym).
> >
> > If the two things are equivalent in HTML then there are a few
> > possiblities. One is to remove one of them, and in this case I would
> > abbr, as the one less supported.
>I actually think removing acronym, as an acronym really *is* a type of
>abreviation. And if we (people on the WAI-IG list) can't agree on acronyms
>are and what's just abbreviations, I very much doubt "ordinary" people will
>understand the difference. Since abbr and acroynm will be rendered the same
>on all UAs, I really see no reason to keep both in the HTML specification,
>especially since noone seems to know the difference (and the definition is
>not the same in various languages/countries).
>Karl Ove Hufthammer

He that lives on Hope, dies farting
      -- Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1763
Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
    WebMaster and Minister of Propaganda, VICUG NYC
Received on Tuesday, 22 February 2000 14:46:00 UTC

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