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Re: abbr and acronym

From: Jukka K. Korpela <jkorpela@cs.tut.fi>
Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2007 11:41:33 +0300 (EEST)
To: www-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.4.64.0703291126290.768@mustatilhi.cs.tut.fi>

On Thu, 29 Mar 2007, Frank Hellenkamp wrote:

>> The main problem with having only one tag concern the aural UA :
>> acronyms are prononced like word, while abbr are spelled.

Actually the page http://esw.w3.org/topic/HTML/AbbrAcronym01 (now) says:

"The main problem with having only one tag concern the aural UA : acronyms 
are pronounced like word, while most abbr are spelled. Other abbr are a 
hybrid form, which are pronounced partly like a word and partly spelled."

> The first thing, that comes to my mind: This doesn't belong into the
> HTML-Specs but in the aural CSS presentation layer, doesn't it?

The _default_ rendering is rather relevant from the HTML perspective. It's 
not really just "presentational", since the whole issue revolves around 
the relationshion between written and spoken forms of an expression.

Anyway, abbreviations are pronounced in varying ways: as expanded, or by 
reading the letters, or as word, or even in some other way (for example, 
pronouncing the names of letters in the original language of the 
abbreviation, even when speaking a different language). This isn't a 
matter of presentation style, really; rather, the pronounced form of an 
expression as opposite to the written from. If pronunciation is 
presentation, so is the spelling!

Just saying that something is an abbreviation doesn't say much, and it's 
debatable what it means to be an abbreviation (or acronym). Is "ISO" or 
"Ecma" an abbreviation (or acronym)? Ask the organizations, and they'lle 
probably answer "No." Fundamentally, being an abbreviation or an acronym 
is just etymologic information, which is normally not relevant to markup; 
if you want to tell about etymologies, like expand an abbreviation, _do 
so_ in text.

To deal with the issue of aural UA, which is probably mostly just theory 
at present but the most serious reason for abbr-like markup, the best 
approach is to specify how you include the written and spoken forms when 
needed (i.e. when the correspondence is not "normal"). The need for this 
is not limited to abbreviations, and for acronyms the issue is irrelevant, 
since for them the correspondence _is_ "normal". It's relevant for special 
characters for example and for words where the written form corresponds to 
several spoken forms (e.g., "record" as a noun vs. as a verb).

Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Received on Thursday, 29 March 2007 08:41:40 UTC

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