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From: Amy Varin <avarin@us.ibm.com>
Date: Fri, 16 Nov 2001 11:19:08 -0700
To: "Boza, Gladys (Gladys)" <boza@avaya.com>
Cc: www-international@w3.org, www-international-request@w3.org
Message-ID: <OFA8001649.F115E5E5-ON87256B06.0061E6BC@boulder.ibm.com>
Even within the same language, abbreviations can have unfortunate secondary
meanings. Whether it matters depends on many factors:
   The degree of offensiveness of the secondary meaning. The chain of
   clothing stores called French Connection United Kingdom is pushing it in
   London even with the metathesis, which is undoubtedly why they chose the
   name, but they haven't opened any branches in Arkansas: it's definitely
   too strong for the Bible Belt.
   The degree of use of the secondary meaning. I once worked on a product
   that contained a component called the ACI, short for Access Control
   Interface. I come from Rhode Island, where the ACI invariably means the
   Adult Correctional Institution--the state prison. Non-Rhode Islanders
   thought that this was completely irrelevant even after it was explained
   to them.
   The possibility of confusion. The most fervent anti-terrorists don't
   mind putting their savings in an IRA, because nobody is going to suppose
   that they are investing in guns for Belfast.
   Whether people dislike the innocent referent and want an easy way to
   insult it. I went to school with a boy whose name was not Peter Ignatius
   Goodwin, although he had the same initials and was often called by them.
   He was popular anyway, but if he hadn't been his name would have been
   used to make his life miserable.

In other words, you can probably get away with most abbreviations, but I
wouldn't hard-code them anyway. The point somebody made about the way
marketing changes product names at the last minute is highly relevant

Amy Varin
Received on Friday, 16 November 2001 13:19:36 UTC

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