Re: ABBR vs ACRONYM, round 57894174803

At 01:32 PM 2001-02-10 +0000, David Woolley wrote:
>Actually, I think all the abbreviations I've seen definitions for
>in passing, are initialisms.

That is because initialisms are used as abbreviations for compound terms
spelled with spaces within them.  This category of compounds are beyond the
pale as far as where the dictionary cuts off listing of terms.  So initialisms
appear as freestanding entries in the dictionary, while irregular
for single terms that do have dictionary entries of their own are discussed
within the entry for the abbreviated term.

>The definition for "initialism" includes "cf acronym".  "cf" (abbrevation,
>but not initialism) 

Morphologically it is an initialism.  It just takes a little sophistication
regarding the constructive morphology involved to realise this.  'cf' is an
initialism in that it is formed of the initial letters of the formants of the
[agglutenated] composite 'confer' in Latin.  the 'f' is the intial letter of
the root and the 'c' is the initial letter of the prefixed modifier.  'confer'
means compare but derives from "bring together."  The abbreviation 'cf' is an
initialism for ConFer, that is "together, bring."  The constructive morphology
behind this initialism is the same as for initialisms for un-agglutenated
compounds spelled with a space between the constituent formants.  The life
cycle of "foo bar" foo-bar and foobar is but stages in the consolidation of
synthesized new term from the combination that it came from.  'cf' is still an
initialism because in its origin it arises from initials for the
independent constituents, regardless of the fact that the compound is
agglutenated and not spaced apart.


PS:  And there is insufficient accessibility benefit to be derived from making
this distiction for the WAI to advocate that a distinction be made, or not be
made.  The accessiblity benefit comes from comprehensible pronunciation, and
coprehensible terminology.  The former is achieved by providing pronunciation
aiding as required, and the latter is achieved by providing expansions as
appropriate.  Both of these services are appropriate across a broader class of
terms than just abbreviations and/or acronyms.  And they apply in all
combinations: sometimes one, sometimes another, sometimes both, sometimes

Assigning separate type profiles to the notations 'abbr' and 'acronym' is
neither necessary nor sufficient for the access-related functions identified
above.  So the WAI per se should not care whether there are distinct and
enforceable definitions for these two terms or not. 

Received on Saturday, 10 February 2001 14:43:27 UTC