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RE: ABBR vs. ACRONYM

From: Marjolein Katsma <access@javawoman.com>
Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2000 21:34:29 +0100
Message-Id: <4.1.20000222212135.058a2e00@pop3.demon.nl>
To: "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <unagi69@concentric.net>
Cc: WAI Interest Group Emailing List <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Gregory,

At 14:55 2000-02-22 -0500, you wrote:
[snip]
>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...

That set of definitions might cover all cases in the English language (I'm not sure) but still leaves a gaping hole in languages like Dutch where we have acronyms (we even have a Dutch word for that: "letterwoord") but also abbreviations made from several words that definitely are not acronyms but still abbreviations. "M.a.w." is one example (the equivalent of IOW). Note the periods - we have a spelling rule that an abbreviation from a single word is written with a single period at the end (Dr.) while an abbreviation of several words is written with a period after each of the parts (a.d.h.v.). 

In German (and maybe other languages) we also have the case of words made up from parts of other words but the parts are more than just the starting letter, often whole syllables (I don't know what the linguistic term is for such words but Gestapo is one infamous example). I think by definition such words are not acronyms but they aren't really abbreviations either.

Then there are such fun words as SCSI - an acronym but I forgot for what right now - but pronounced as "scuzzy". Is there any (standard) method yet how to indicate both expansion and pronunciation to a screen reader or speech browser?

Well, yes, maybe we all need to shut up for a month. Sorry, I happen to be fascinated by language!

Cheers,
Marjolein Katsma
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Received on Tuesday, 22 February 2000 15:35:22 GMT

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