acronym (was re: uniting two old threads...)
laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat May 27 17:52:38 UTC 2006
At 11:46 AM -0400 5/27/06, Mark A. Mandel wrote:
>Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> scripsit:
>1) What was it we were going to call the "Nabisco", "Gestapo",
>"Comintern" type formations, which are to syllables what acronyms are
>to letters? Here's another one...
>ISTR the definition of "acronym" as referring to the first parts of the
>component words, not just their initials.
>Merriam-Webster Online says:
>: a word (as NATO, radar, or snafu) formed from the initial letter or
>letters of each of the successive parts or major parts of a compound term;
>also : an abbreviation (as FBI) formed from initial letters : INITIALISM
>A word formed from the initial letters of other words.
>Hmph. Merriam-Webster is more precise on every aspect of the definition.
>Jesse, I think you have some catching up to do here.
Well, M-W is more specific. To be more precise implies correctness
in the higher level of specificity, and I find it counterintuitive to
lump "NATO" and "Nabisco" into the same "acronym" category, just as I
object to initialisms being lumped in with acronyms for our purposes,
even though I recognize that many speakers beyond this list do use
"acronym" in this way. Now I concede that "the initial letters of
other words" is ambiguous or underspecified--arguably perniciously
so, which I take it is what you had in mind, since it depends on how
the distributive vs. group reading works: one letter from each of
the "other" words or unspecified groups of one of more "letters" from
each word. But maybe the underspecification is precisely what's
warranted here, given the difference in intuitions on whether the
"Nabisco"/"Nazi"/"Vokuhila" class do constitute acronyms.
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