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Re: Abbreviations and Acronyms

From: Ryan Fischer <fischer@email.unc.edu>
Date: Thu, 14 Oct 1999 15:32:05 -0700
To: www-html@w3.org, Dmitry Beransky <dberansky@ucsd.edu>
Message-id: <007101bf1693$f3b210c0$debbfea9@andrew>
You wrote:
> >At 10:46 AM 10/14/99 , Kjetil Kjernsmo wrote:
> >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)

FBI is not pronounceable.  The spec is wrong here.

> A perfect case of truth been in the eye of the beholder :)
> I'm not sure why the spec considers FBI to be an acronym (then again,
> not a native English speaker), but the example with "SQL" makes
> sense.  Myself, I always spell it out "S.Q.L," while some people I
> pronounce it as "Sequel," yet other people say "Squirrel."

IMO, the people who try to pronounce SQL are wrong.  SQL is not
technically pronounceable in the English language.  I always find myself
stuttering when I try to say it as "sequel" or "mysquell" (in the case
of MySQL), so I know it can't be pronounced, and shouldn't be, and you
should say S-Q-L (es-cue-el).  Therefore it is an abbreviation.  Same
with FBI.  The only difference between the two is I don't see anyone
calling FBI "fuh-bye!" or "fibbie!"  ;-)

> At 01:07 PM 10/14/99 , Ryan Fischer wrote:
> >For ACRONYM, there is no need for a TITLE attribute.  For voice UAs,
> >will (should, IMO) know to pronounce ACRONYM's content because it is
> >pronounceable.
> Well, given the above, which way should a UA pronounce "SQL" if the
> marks it up as an acronym?

Good question.  In that case, I'd say a UA should look at the TITLE
attribute for one, and if there is none, just say it letter-by-letter.
Authors that use these attributes really should know the difference,
though.  This is basic elementary (or maybe high school) English, and
I'm surprised the W3C can't get it straight.

> It seems to me that acronyms are a subset of
> abbreviations: every acronym is an abbreviation, but not every
> is an acronym.


> This means that ACRONYM should also have a title attribute
> which expends it into its canonical form.  But on top of that, there
> be another attribute with pronunciation hints.

I don't think that's necessary.  TITLE should suffice.  Unless, of
course, you have a UA that understands phonetic (sp?) spellings and you
want to create a new element and/or attribute that tells a UA exactly
how to say something:

<word phon="ghoti" dict="fish">fish</word>

The PHON attribute, contains the phonetic spelling.  The DICT attribute
would be a dictionary spelling of fish.  Mine's not accurate, I don't
think, because the pronounciations I see at http://www.dictionary.com
seem to differ from those you would see in a dictionary like Websters,

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

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