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Re: Brainstorming - abbreviations

From: Sandy Smith <ssmith@forumone.com>
Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2007 15:31:29 -0400
To: public-html@w3.org
cc: Bill Mason <w3c@accessibleinter.net>
Message-ID: <5DA402E6-773D-4AC8-BF08-553BBCBCB61D@forumone.com>
I can't speak to Robert's understanding, but I believe that the two  
are semantically distinct. They both reduce words, but one is a  
shortening of a single word, while the other is a concatenation of  
parts of several words to stand for a longer phrase.

A use case for the semantic difference is writing an application to  
find all the acronyms in a document and replace them with their  
called-out equivalents. With <acronym> this is easy. With only <abbr>  
I have to determine whether or not the content looks like an acronym  
so I'm not calling out Mr. or Mrs. by mistake.

If you're going to drop one, I suggest <abbr>, as I have seen far  
fewer cases of people actually marking up an abbreviation than an  
acronym, and far more novel acronyms are used in writing than novel  
abbreviations that would need explaining.

On Mar 15, 2007, at 3:11 PM, Bill Mason wrote:

> Robert Brodrecht wrote:
>> It's not muddy at all.  Even if acronym is a "subset" of abbr (it  
>> could
>> be argued either way), they perform two completely different  
>> tasks.  An
>> abbreviation is a shortening of a word (e.g. vs, cont, mgmt, mr,  
>> mrs).
>> An acronym is a shortening of a group of words to form another "word"
>> (e.g. RADAR, LASER, NATO, SQL) or shortening to initials (e.g. W3C,
>> HTML, CSS, eg, ie, LOL, TLA - three letter acronym ;).
> Do I understand your argument to therefore be:
> The sole semantic value of acronym is that it tells the reader that  
> the
> "origin" of the shortened construct marked up as an acronym is a group
> of words.  Conversely, the "origin" of an abbreviation is a single  
> word.

Sandy Smith, Manager of Technical Development
Forum One Communications, Inc.
tel. 703-548-1855 x28
Received on Thursday, 15 March 2007 19:32:41 UTC

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