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Re: Acronyms and Abbreviations

From: marina <marina@reliance.it>
Date: Fri, 22 Oct 1999 13:12:56 +1000
Message-Id: <v04020a08b4357dba0a33@[]>
To: Neil Gulati <ngulati@scu.edu.au>, www-html@w3.org
At 11:45 AM +1000 22/10/99 [dmy], Neil Gulati wrote about [Subject] Re:
Acronyms and Abbreviations:
 >At last, we are getting through to some sense!
 >I agree, and I differ.
 >Who cares what the terminology is, what are the tags USED FOR?
 >If the issue of pronouncability etc. is dealt with by CSS,
 >why have both acronym and abbreviation tags?
 >Why have either?

I suppose it's because you need to tell the browser how the text should be
READ. That was the point I tried to make when asking for a formal
definition of ACRONYM. I'd like to thank Liam for his reply, and at the
same time point out that was not what I was asking. Since both the American
and the English dictionary define "acronym" as being a "word", things like
HTTP and CSS are *not* covered either by the "abbreviation" or by the
"acronym" definition - and in this case the following would be true:

 >>Several people on the list have claimed that the difference between
 >>acronyms and abbreviations (or that the difference between <acronym> and
 >><abbr>) is one of pronunciation. I differ. That cannot be the difference
 >>between acronyms and abbreviations, as then we'd need *three* words in
 >>English for things of this sort -- one for when the truncation is
 >>pronounced spelled-out (e.g., "SQL" or "WWW" for most people), one for
 >>when it's read as a word (e.g., "NAFTA" for most people) and one for when
 >>it's replaced in pronunciation by what it stands for (e.g., "Mlle." or
 >>"etc." for most people). Likewise, if pronunciation is the difference
 >>between <abbr> and <acronym>, we need a third tag.

Personally, I believe the whole problem lies in the nature of the English
language only, and people who are not native English speakers shouldn't be
"bothered" by it.
ANY logogram and word, in Italian, is read by spelling out the sound of the
individual letters composing it. Any abbreviation could be "translated"
into the whole word it represents based on a small look-up table
(=dictionary). The clean, safe and proper solution to the problem would be
to write the proper look-up tables (dictionaries) for each language. (It
seems to me this is virtually impossible for the English language, since,
at the very minimum, this particular look-up table ought to be updated
every time a new "acronym" is invented.)

On the whole, it appears like everybody is right on this matter - which
makes me think that we are all making different base assumptions about how
the whole thing would work. For example: is a dictionary, or a set of
dictionaries, going to be used, or is it an algorythm that determines the
sound from a set of letters using some rules, or is it a combination of
methods? Obviously, if it's all done in the dictionary, one tag is more
than enough - but wouldn't a dictionary that includes all the languages the
user may want in order to browse the Net be just too big?

On the other hand, if a compromise is what some people are thinking of
using, three tags are probably less prone to mistakes than just two.

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Received on Thursday, 21 October 1999 23:16:10 UTC

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