W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > October 1999

Re: Abbreviations and Acronyms

From: Ryan Fischer <fischer@email.unc.edu>
Date: Thu, 14 Oct 1999 15:38:03 -0700
To: Kjetil Kjernsmo <kjetil.kjernsmo@astro.uio.no>
Cc: www-html@w3.org
Message-id: <008101bf1694$c92e7860$debbfea9@andrew>
You wrote:
> On Thu, 14 Oct 1999, Ryan Fischer wrote:
> >No, these aren't wrong.  The difference in abbreviations and acronyms
> >acronyms are a pronounceable form made by a combination of letters.
> >instance, SCUBA is an acronym while IBM is an abbreviation.
> Well, you see why I am confused... Because, in that case, what do the
> mean by this:
> "Note that abbreviations and acronyms often have idiosyncratic
> pronunciations. For example, while "IRS" and "BBC" are typically
> pronounced letter by letter, "NATO" and "UNESCO" are pronounced
> phonetically.

Right.  That's the difference between abbreviations and acronyms.  I
don't see why the W3C doesn't understand that.  It's the acronyms that
have idiosyncratic pronounciations.  Abbreviations don't.  That's why
they're only considered abbreviations and not acronyms.

> Still other abbreviated forms (e.g., "URI" and "SQL") are
> spelled out by some people and pronounced as words by other people.

I have never seen someone try to pronounce URI (though it would be
funny).  (It's not "yurrie"; it's "You-are-I".)  See my other post for
discussion of SQL.

> When necessary, authors should use style sheets to specify the
> pronunciation of an abbreviated form."

Only in the case of abbreviations.  Acronyms can already be pronounced,
so there is no need for this elaboration.  I realize after already
sending my other post that there may already be way to indicate
pronounciations with CSS2's aural style sheets, but I'm not all familiar
with that version of CSS yet.

> Clearly, it states that what you just said isn't the distinction? The
> says "F.B.I." is an acronym, but it isn't a pronounceable form?
> (Don't say it is the periods, it is often written as FBI)

(See my other reply.)

 -Ryan Fischer <fischer@email.unc.edu> ICQ UIN - 595003
Received on Thursday, 14 October 1999 15:38:31 UTC

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