[thelist] Use of <abbr title>

Madhu Menon webguru at vsnl.net
Thu Mar 14 23:52:00 CST 2002

At 03:01 AM 3/15/2002, Andrew F.  wrote:

>Umm, so your opinion and Madhu's is right, while a direct quote from a
>reputable dictionary like the Concise Oxford is wrong? An acronym is usually
>pronounced as a word, but not necessarily.

Oh boy, this means war. ;)

Since the OED online access isn't free, I'll have to quote another ten or
so other sources.

>Every dictionary says the same
>thing, including dictionary.com:

Did you read that properly? Here's what it says:


A word formed from the initial letters of a name, such as WAC for Women's
Army Corps, or by combining initial letters or parts of a series of words,
such as RADAR for radio detecting and ranging.


I think the "has to be" is pretty much implied there. I don't see a
"usually" anywhere in that definition.

But you probably need a bit more convincing, so here are a few more sources:

* Miriam-Webster dictionary (http://www.m-w.com)


word (as NATO, radar, or snafu) formed from the initial letter or letters
of each of the successive parts or major parts of a compound term


* Encarta World Dictionary


ac·ro·nym [ákrnim ] (plural ac·ro·nyms) noun
word formed from initials:  a word formed from the initials or other parts
of several words, for example, "NATO," from the initial letters of "North
Atlantic Treaty Organization"


Naah... that's not good enough. let's try a few sources with "Oxford" in
their names.

* The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics


A word formed from the initial letters of two or more successive words:
e.g. ASH, phonetically [a[integral]], from 'Action on Smoking and Health'.


* The Oxford Companion to the English Language


An abbreviation formed from the first letters of a series of words and
pronounced as one word: NATO from North Atlantic Treaty Organization,
pronounced 'Nay-toe'; radar from radio detection and ranging, pronounced


* Here's a site called, of all things, AcronymFinder.com and here's how
they define an acronym (http://www.acronymfinder.com/about.asp#what)


What's an Acronym?

Here's an example of an acronym:

North Atlantic Treaty Organization = NATO

An acronym is a pronounceable word formed from each of the first letters of
a descriptive phrase. An acronym is actually a type of abbreviation.


and finally, you asked where it says that it *has* to be pronounced as a
word. So I give you...

* The New Fowler's Modern English Usage (http://www.xrefer.com/entry/591114)

where it says (drumroll please):


The test of a true acronym is often assumed to be that it SHOULD be
pronounceable as a word within the normal word patterns of English. By such
a reckoning, BBC is not an acronym but an abbreviation; whereas Nato ( =
North Atlantic Treaty Organization), being pronounceable like Cato, is an


Need I quote more sources?

After that long message, I owe a tip:

<tip type="Reference sources on the Web" author="Madhu Menon">

Want a site that can be used to look up terms in business, language,
medicine, science, technology, and even law? http://www.xrefer.com is an
excellent place to start. It aggregates content from many relevant sources
so you don't have to go hunting across several sites. I've used it to look
up everything from legal jargon to business buzzwords to medical information.




<<<   *   >>>
Madhu Menon
User Experience Consultant
e-mail: webguru at vsnl.net

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