Periods after abbreviations

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Tue Jun 29 04:05:38 UTC 2004

On Jun 28, 2004, at 8:21 PM, Barnhart wrote:

> American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> writes:
>> except for initialisms,
> What about a.m. and p.m.; s.s.e. [for south-southeast]; T.C. [for
> Teacher's College]; T.Q.C. [for total quality control]; and U.A.W. [for
> United Automobile Workers]; and U.F.C.T. [for United Federation of
> College
> Teachers].  These examples were taken from a dictionary of
> abbreviations
> which was very sensitive to periods in the evidence it collected prior
> to
> being written.

eek.  what i wrote here was a cut-down version of a discussion for
soc.motss (which was itself only an approximation to the full
complexity of actual practice).  it's a periodic jungle out there.
some people insist on "M.I.T.", some on "MIT", while almost everyone
does the University of California branches without periods: "UCLA",
"UCSC", "UCSB", and so on.  and on and on.

modern practice on initialisms tends more and more towards no periods.
that doesn't mean there can't be the occasional periodic island.

arnold (zwicky at

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