Periods after abbreviations
JMB at STRADLEY.COM
Tue Jun 29 03:18:17 UTC 2004
Jesse did not clarify why he thinks that "Ms" should not have a period. My initial thought was that he meant that actual words, such as Ms and Mrs (neither of which is an abbreviation for anything), should not have periods.
Perhaps we were just in need of another prescriptive rule, but I really don't see why there should be a period for abbreviations like Rev., where the retained letters are at the beginning of the word, but not for abbreviations like St. (when short for Saint), where the retained letters come from both the beginning and the end of the word. In the context of business organizations, I suppose we could keep Co. and Inc. but would have to go with Ltd as the abbreviation for Limited. We could keep St. for Street, but Blvd would abbreviate Boulevard. Is this really a good approach?
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
Of Damien Hall
Sent: Monday, June 28, 2004 2:13 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Periods after abbreviations
Jesse Sheidlower's signoff in his most recent message -
'Jesse Sheidlower, who thinks that "Ms" should not have a
- has inspired me to ask about the following. I think it
may be a simple transatlantic difference, but I'd be interested to know what
For me, prescriptively, if I might be so bold, no abbreviation should have a
period after it unless that period actually replaces letters, so correct forms
However, I've noticed that universal usage in the States seems to be periods
after all of this type of abbreviation.
To confuse the picture further, in Britain at least the inclusion of the
'correct' period is coming more and more to be seen as too fussy and obscuring
'real meaning' at the expense of emphasising personal 'scholarliness' in the
worst sense. Instead, in business communications, the tendency is towards
what's called 'open', ie 'no', punctuation, so:
Prof A N Other
St Agatha's College
28 Jun 2004
Dear Prof Other ...
British newspapers also follow this usage and don't, or rarely, put periods
after abbreviations of this type. What's the difference between American
prescriptive and actual usage and British prescriptive and actual usage?
University of Pennsylvania
More information about the Ads-l