City Names (initialism division)

Amy Speed speed at PARADIGMTECH.COM
Thu Dec 2 21:08:57 UTC 1999

>And let's not forget L.A., used by Angelenos and non- alike.  For some
>reason, though, this particular species of familiarity-induced reduction
>(for city and state names) is rarer than most; other possible initialisms
>(N.Y., S.F., S.D. (San Diego or South Dakota), N.H. (for New Hampshire or
>New Haven), etc. don't occur in speech except as subparts of longer
>initialisms (e.g. NYPD) although they're quite frequent in writing (for
>example, in reporting sports scores).  I have no idea why this should be,
>since initialisms for other locally-familiar or referents are quite
>common--for countries (U.S., U.S.S.R.), colleges (UCLA, O.S.U., L.S.U.),
>people (JFK, LBJ, MJ), and other categories.  KC for Kansas City is
>frequently heard, although I have no idea whether it's heard THERE.

My theory is that the tongue takes the path of least resistance. "L.A.," for
example, slides easily over the tongue, whereas "N.H." is not quite so
slick. After saying "New Haven" and "N.H." to myself aloud, it was easy to
see that "New Haven" offered the least resistance, especially since the "h"
sound is easily dropped. The same may be true of "New York," although not to
the same extent, perhaps. Whether my theory can be applied to all
abbreviated city names, I don't know. For example, I would think that it
would be easier to say "S.A." rather than "San Antonio."

I imagine that residents of cities that start with "West" would prefer to
say "West" rather than "W." In such a case, "West Virginia" is easier to say
than "double-u vee." Perhaps residents would say "West V?" Perhaps someone
from a western place would care to expound on that.

Residents of Green Bay, WI, sometimes shorten the city name to "G.B." This
is used infrequently, and usually in reference to some sporting event
(college or high school only). Residents tend to be very proud of the
Packers and will plaster the name "Green Bay" anywhere at every opportunity.


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