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RE: ABBR vs ACRONYM, round 57894174803 [a tirade]

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-edapta@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Mon, 05 Feb 2001 18:18:01 -0800
Message-Id: <>
To: "Charles F. Munat" <chas@munat.com>
Cc: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
At 06:02 PM 2/5/2001 , Charles F. Munat wrote:
>The above are facts, though some would pretend they are opinions. Here is
>another fact: The HTML/XHTML recommendations are wrong about acronyms. Here
>is an opinion: I think that we should fix them instead of acquiescing and
>dropping the useful element "acronym."

I'm not sure if the HTML/XHTML working group is willing to do that,
though.  As a party without control over the W3C spec, we have
two choices:  interpret, or ignore.

I guess we can petition, while still doing one of those two.

>While we're at it, permit me to set the record straight on a related issue:
>ABBREVIATIONS ARE NOT PRONOUNCED (unless they are acronyms). For example,
>the abbreviation for my name - Charles - is C H A S PERIOD: Chas. This is a
>written shorthand, not an aural one. Chas. is pronounced "Charles" not
>"Chaz", just as Wm. is William not "Wim" and Jos. is Joseph not "Jahs." Some
>abbreviations for foreign terms are better translated. Thus instead of "E G"
>say "for example" and instead of "I E" say "that is." As an added benefit,
>if you pronounce them and translate them, you'll be less likely to misuse

I'm not sure about that.  What exactly do you call "CIO" or "HTML"?
Do you say "See Eye Oh" or do you say "Sigh-Oh"?  Do you say "hutmul"
or do you say "Aitch Tee Em Ell"?  Or are CIO and HTML neither
abbreviations nor acronyms?

Pronunciation, as identified in the HTML 4.01 spec, is an issue for
stylesheets.  "WAI" may be "dubya ay eye" to some people and "way"
to others and "why" to yet more folks.  SQL and URL are examples of
ambiguity cited in the HTML 4.01 spec.

>Even if it weren't already sparklingly clear that
>acronyms are meant to be pronounced, there are obvious benefits to defining
>the term acronym in this manner, and no benefit to making it simply
>synonymous with initials or abbreviation. SO WHAT IS THE POINT? [...]
>And as some have already pointed out on this list, if ACRONYM
>*isn't* an abbreviation that's pronounced as a word, then of what use is the
>ACRONYM element? None.

Exactly:  As defined by the HTML 4.01 spec, the ACRONYM element is of
no use.


Kynn Bartlett <kynn@reef.com>
Technical Developer Liaison
Customer Management/Team Edapta
Reef North America
Tel +1 909-674-5225
Received on Monday, 5 February 2001 21:37:41 UTC

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