acronyms versus abbreviations

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Feb 27 00:43:12 UTC 2006

At 7:02 PM -0500 2/26/06, James Landau wrote:
>Still another entry in the already-overcrowded acronym-et-al family:
>The word created originally by using a set of initials but then spelling
>the result phonetically.
>emcee---originally Master of Ceremonies
>kayo---originally Knock Out (I'm not sure this one is used outside of comic

Not to mention "okay"

>yet another member of the acronym family:  the one in which a string of
>letters which is not pronounceable as stands is rendered into something
>pronounceable.  The example that comes to mind is /'nim squat'/ for NMSQT
>(National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test).

This is similar to the kind we've discussed here recently, which I
labeled "epenthetic acronyms", in which a vowel has to be purchased
from Vanna or whomever to get the acronymic pronunciation.  There's
also POSSLQ (pronounced "possel-cue"), as an attempt to fill that
perennial gap, from the census initialism for Person of Opposite Sex
Sharing Living Quarters.


The American Dialect Society -

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