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Re: 'acronym' semantics

From: Herr Christian Wolfgang Hujer <Christian.Hujer@itcqis.com>
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2003 02:56:12 +0200
To: Mikko Rantalainen <mira@cc.jyu.fi>, www-html@w3.org
Message-Id: <200304110256.13603.Christian.Hujer@itcqis.com>

Hash: SHA1

Hello Mikko,

Am Freitag, 11. April 2003 01:57 schrieb Mikko Rantalainen:
> Herr Christian Wolfgang Hujer / 2003-04-11 02:36:
> > Am Freitag, 11. April 2003 01:23 schrieb Etan Wexler:
> >> I do not understand the relevance of being the name of a language.
> >>  The matter is settled simply: do we pronounce "XML" like "eks em
> >> ell" or like "ksimmill"?
> >
> > being spoken or spelled-out is not the difference between an acronym
> >  and an abbreviation. I myself fell on that. But acronym just means
> > short name, so it is a shortened name for something, no matter how
> > you spell or pronounce it.
> According to dict.org and dictionary.com "acronym" is roughly a
> combination of letters and "abbreviation" is a more general concept.
> acronym
> n : a word formed from the initial letters of a multi-word name
> n. A word formed from the initial letters of a name, such as WAC for
>     Women's Army Corps, or by combining initial letters or parts of
>     a series of words, such as radar for radio detecting and ranging.
> abbreviation
> n
> 1: a shortened form of a word or phrase
> 2: shortening something by omitting parts of it
> 1. The act or product of shortening.
> 2. A shortened form of a word or phrase used chiefly in writing to
>     represent the complete form, such as Mass. for Massachusetts or
>     USMC for United States Marine Corps.
> According to the description given by those dictionaries I'd say that
> every acronym is also an abbreviation but the other way around isn't true.
Yes, that's completely true.
Acronyms are always abbreviations. But there are abbreviations that aren't 
acronyms. Acronyms are a subset of abbreviations. And the confusion about 
that is, I think, one of the reasons why the HTML WG decided to drop the 
<acronym/> element in XHTML 2.0.
E.g. "e.g.", "vs.", "Mass.", "DC", "Inc.", "IMHO", "AFAIK" are abbreviations 
of that I'd say they aren't acronyms.
NATO, UNO, Laser, Radar are abbreviations of that I'd say they are acronyms.
IMHO also "NOMAAM" (National Organization Against Amazonian Masterhood) and 
"XHTML" are also acronyms, but as the IMHO already says, that's where the 
confusion starts: What's a name and what isn't.
And to generate more confusion, tools listing abbreviations often themselves 
talk about acronyms instead of abbreviations, e.g. 

But perhaps Laser and Radar aren't acronyms but just initialisms because they 
aren't names for something like a language, person or organization, but a 
term describing a material object?

I'd not give too much on the explanations of one or two dictionaries. I looked 
up acronym myself, and I had to look it up in more than 5 dictionaries until 
I started to get a good feeling about what is an acronym and what isn't, and 
several of the dictionaries suggested that acronyms are always pronouncable 
(which just isn't true).

So much confusion, I'm glad <acronym/> is dropped.

(And what might someone think? Finally I understand the difference between 
<abbr/> and <acronym/> and now <acronym/> is dropped! ;-)

- -- 
Christian Wolfgang Hujer
Geschäftsführender Gesellschafter
Telefon: +49  (0)89  27 37 04 37
Telefax: +49  (0)89  27 37 04 39
E-Mail: Christian.Hujer@itcqis.com
WWW: http://www.itcqis.com/
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Received on Thursday, 10 April 2003 20:57:13 UTC

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