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From: Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2000 16:42:51 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: Marjolein Katsma <access@javawoman.com>
Cc: WAI Interest Group Emailing List <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
aloha, marjolein!

thank you for expanding my provincial horizons!

since i'm not sure what the expansion for IOW is, i can't comment upon 
where something such as m.a.w. might fall into a classification schema for 
abbreviations...  i do, however, think that any compound term that is 
abbreviated (whether or not periods are used -- especially since, at least 
in english -- it is possible to discard the periods and still have a usable 
acronym, such as FBI, which is considered as valid a spelling (at least 
according to the 3 spell-checkers i have at my disposal) as F.B.I.), could 
-- and should -- be marked up using ACRONYM, a point on which, i fear, i 
have been less than clear in past posts...

my convoluted sentence structure probably isn't helping advance my point 
either, so let me try again...

leaving linguistics out of the equation for the moment, _any_ abbreviated 
compound term could be considered an ACRONYM from a markup standpoint, 
whether it is pronounceable as a word or only as a string of 
characters...  this definition would cover both letterwoords (such as 
RADAR) as well as compound abbreviations (such as FBI, DVS, GmbH, or a.d.h.v.)

again, from a markup standpoint, any single-word abbreviation would be 
encoded using ABBR

where this distinction may well fall apart, as you pointed out, is in 
languages, in which it is possible to form an abbreviated form of a 
compound term using parts of words or a mixture of syllables and initial 

which is something that needs to be investigated by the W3C's 
internationalization working group, as well as the WAI's protocols and 
formats working group...

as for your question:

>Then there are such fun words as SCSI - an acronym but I forgot for what 
>right now - but pronounced as "scuzzy". Is there any (standard) method yet 
>how to indicate both expansion and pronunciation to a screen reader or 
>speech browser?

indicating pronunciation is the sort of functionality that Ruby is intended 
to provide -- consult:

quoting from the Ruby working draft's "Abstract"

"Ruby" are short runs of text alongside the base text, typically used in 
East Asian documents to indicate pronunciation or to provide a short 
annotation. This specification defines markup for ruby. The specification 
is written so that this markup for ruby can be included as a module of 

for more information about XHTML 1.1, consult:

for more information on the W3C's internationalization activity, consult:


At 09:34 PM 2/22/00 +0100, you wrote:
>At 14:55 2000-02-22 -0500, you wrote:
> >as i wrote in an earlier post, i believe that the distinction meant by the
> >authors of the HTML 4x spec is that an abbreviation is a shortened form of
> >a _single_ word, whilst an acronym is a compound contraction of more than
> >one word, and that it is _not_ necessary for that compound contraction to
> >be pronounceable as a word in order for it to earn designation as an 
> acronym...
>That set of definitions might cover all cases in the English language (I'm 
>not sure) but still leaves a gaping hole in languages like Dutch where we 
>have acronyms (we even have a Dutch word for that: "letterwoord") but also 
>abbreviations made from several words that definitely are not acronyms but 
>still abbreviations. "M.a.w." is one example (the equivalent of IOW). Note 
>the periods - we have a spelling rule that an abbreviation from a single 
>word is written with a single period at the end (Dr.) while an 
>abbreviation of several words is written with a period after each of the 
>parts (a.d.h.v.).
>In German (and maybe other languages) we also have the case of words made 
>up from parts of other words but the parts are more than just the starting 
>letter, often whole syllables (I don't know what the linguistic term is 
>for such words but Gestapo is one infamous example). I think by definition 
>such words are not acronyms but they aren't really abbreviations either.
>Then there are such fun words as SCSI - an acronym but I forgot for what 
>right now - but pronounced as "scuzzy". Is there any (standard) method yet 
>how to indicate both expansion and pronunciation to a screen reader or 
>speech browser?
>Well, yes, maybe we all need to shut up for a month. Sorry, I happen to be 
>fascinated by language!
>Marjolein Katsma
>HomeSite Help - http://hshelp.com/
>Bookstore for Webmasters - http://hshelp.com/bookstore/bookstore.html

He that lives on Hope, dies farting
      -- Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1763
Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
    WebMaster and Minister of Propaganda, VICUG NYC
Received on Tuesday, 22 February 2000 16:34:08 UTC

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