acronyms

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Philip Hudson
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acronyms

Postby Philip Hudson » Thu Oct 16, 2014 1:01 am

The alphabet jumble of militaryese has been a bane to my career in which I wrote long technical treatises heavily peppered with those little demons. Acronyms abound and more are always being invented. Church circles are rife with them. We don't worship in the sanctuary any more we worship in the WC. No, that doesn't mean what you are thinking. It means Worship Center. One doesn't attend Sunday School any more, one is an integral member of an ABF (Adult Bible Fellowship). Us old curmudgeons doggedly refuse to go along.

One of my Chinese friends told me that the Chinese language is hard to use in the modern world because it has no acronyms. That's a joke. Think about it until you catch it.

What are your takes on acronyms.
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Re: acronyms

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Oct 17, 2014 9:23 am

It's hard to speak Algebra.

O.t.o.h PG Wodehouse liked to shrink whole words to letters when they would be easily understood, although he did this at random.

Acronyms help those of us who are lazy. I once pastored a church called New Chapel Hill. Obviously, we reduced it to NCH. Much quicker to type and one syllable shorter. I do think that many writers of works dense in acronyms might help their readers by reprinting the whole name rather than the abbreviated form. If composing a bureaucratic document that may refer to five or more agencies, one can get lost in the sea of letters. You can't tell the players without a program!
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Re: acronyms

Postby bnjtokyo » Mon Oct 20, 2014 6:02 am

I believe an abbreviation is any shortening of a word or phrase used to represent the complete word or phrase. Examples are Mass for Massachusetts and UN for United Nations. On the other hand, an acronym is a WORD formed from the initial letters of the word or phrase. "Radar" from RAdio Detecting And Ranging is the classic example. Thus an acronym must be pronouncable as a word. Thus WC (in any sense) and NCH, being spelled out letter by letter, are not acronyms but are abbreviations. I guess we can say all acronyms are abbreviations but not all abbreviations are acronyms.

I can't speak for Chinese, but abbreviations formed using kanji can be pronounced as a word in Japanese, so I guess all such abbreviations in Japanese are acronyms. For example, Tokyo University is written with four kanji:東京大学 ( Too + kyoo + dai + gaku) and is abbreviated as 東大 (Toodai), from the first character in Tokyo, the city, and the first letter in daigaku, university.

Philip Hudson
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Re: acronyms

Postby Philip Hudson » Mon Oct 20, 2014 3:23 pm

bnjtokyo: Yours is a point well taken. Acronyms are a subset of abbreviations. They can be pronounced and are not contractions. I should have used other examples. in that way Sib is not an acronym but an abbreviation of sibling. In my work I used FLIRs, an acronym. I once worked on DABS which is definitely an acronym standing for Directly Addressable Beacon System. Then I worked on GPS (pronounce each first letter of Global Positioning Satellites) that made DABS obsolete. Sometimes silly names are made up just to form an acronym. Some abbreviations may be misleading. Gym means a place to exercise or play games and has nothing to do with being naked. All of these go together to make an alphabet soup of the language. But then, some folks like alphabet soup.
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Slava
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Re: acronyms

Postby Slava » Mon Oct 20, 2014 6:57 pm

Sorry, but I must disagree. Acronyms do not have to be pronounceable as words. The NAACP is an acronym, not an abbreviation, as is the NCAA. An acronym is also what is called an initialism, forming something that may or may not be used as a word from the initial letters of the original phrase. Other examples would be the groups CCR and ELO, acronyms, but not words or abbreviations.

I'm not sure where SNCC (pronounced SNICK) would fit in here, though. Not a word, but it does have a non-alphabetical pronunciation.
Last edited by Slava on Mon Oct 20, 2014 8:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: acronyms

Postby bnjtokyo » Mon Oct 20, 2014 7:38 pm

Slava, did you intend to write "Acronyms do [NOT] have to be pronounceable as words"? Otherwise, I am confused. I cannot pronounce NAACP (I say "en double a see pee"). But I agree it is difficult to say whether SNCC is an abbreviation or an acronym.

Assuming you inadvertently omitted "not," can you quote chapter and verse for this assertion? My Random House Dictionary says an acronym is "A WORD formed of the initial letters or groups of letters in a set phrase or series of words" [emphasis added]. A abbreviation is "A shortened or contracted form of word or phrase." Thus an abbreviation IS NOT itself a word while an acronym IS a word. (The definition of "word" could of course be the problem. An expansive definition could include abbreviations as words.)

The same dictionary shows a pronunciation for NATO (na'to - there is a macron over the "a" and the "o" that I cannot indicate with my keyboard - Pronunciation Section help me!), but does not show any pronunciation for NCAA, just the expansion to National Collegiate Athletic Association

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Slava
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Re: acronyms

Postby Slava » Mon Oct 20, 2014 8:07 pm

Omitted NOT edited in. Oops. :oops:

As to the definition of acronym, here's chapter and verse from dictionary.com;
1. a word formed from the initial letters or groups of letters of words in a set phrase or series of words and pronounced as a separate word, as Wac from Women's Army Corps, OPEC from Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or loran from long-range navigation.
2. a set of initials representing a name, organization, or the like, with each letter pronounced separately; an initialism.
3. an acrostic.
NCAA is pronounced "en, see, double A."

For a nice discussion on the differences of opinion on what these buggers are to be called, go here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acronym#Nomenclature

I guess this makes my statement of of opinion, not fact, as it seems there is disagreement as to what the fact of the matter is. Image
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Philip Hudson
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Re: acronyms

Postby Philip Hudson » Tue Oct 21, 2014 2:02 am

bnjtokyo: I cannot type macrons on my computer either. I cut and paste. The typeface and font can be changed as you like.
Ā ā Ē ē Ī ī Ō ō
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