[Ads-l] Pluralizing acronyms

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Jan 6 14:44:41 UTC 2018

Speaking of technical vocabulary, while “elf” usually pluralizes to “elves”, the acronym ELF as a term of art has a regular plural, ELFs rather than ELVES. For example (and no, I don’t know WTF this is all about, or even what *non*-extreme lossiness might involve):


The Magic of ELFs
Mark Zhandry

Abstract: We introduce the notion of an \emph{Extremely Lossy Function} (ELF). An ELF is a family of functions with an image size that is tunable anywhere from injective to having a polynomial-sized image. Moreover, for any efficient adversary, for a sufficiently large polynomial r (necessarily chosen to be larger than the running time of the adversary), the adversary cannot distinguish the injective case from the case of image size r. 
We develop a handful of techniques for using ELFs, and show that such extreme lossiness is useful for instantiating random oracles in several settings. […]

Given that MILF is equally an item of technical vocabulary, it pluralizes as MILFs (rather than MILVES or MsILF—but compare the old objections to RBIs as a plural of RBI or acronym for “Runs Batted In”).  Predictably, in German the standard plural is “Milfen", although that does yield a homonymy with the denominal verb “milfen”: http://www.giga.de/extra/netzkultur/specials/milf-reife-frauen-antiker-mythus-und-begehren/


> On Jan 6, 2018, at 2:22 AM, Barretts Mail <mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> I have to deal with technical vocabulary, and it feels odd making plurals out of initialisms that I’m not used to. UE (user equipment) becomes UEs even though “equipment” is a non-count noun, for example. 
> Here are a couple of considerations:
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acronym#Representing_plurals_and_possessives <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acronym#Representing_plurals_and_possessives>
> I think f-to-v rule is fossilized (c.f., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_plurals#Near-regular_plurals <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_plurals#Near-regular_plurals>), so new words don’t take it. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dwarf_(Middle-earth)#Spelling_%22Dwarves%22 <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dwarf_(Middle-earth)#Spelling_"Dwarves"> for Tolkien’s usage.
> Benjamin Barrett
> Formerly of Seattle, WA
>> On 5 Jan 2018, at 23:12, Shawnee Moon <moon.shawnee at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
>> I’m assuming you have heard the word “MILF” by now.
>> It’s pronounced and used as a word, like many acronyms. I’m just curious, if there is more than one mother you, um, desire, would MILF be pluralized like the words shelf, self and elf, with VES replacing the F at the end? One MILF, two MILVES...
>> Just a nonsense question, but one of the gazillion things I ponder when otherwise idle.
>> Mailed from the Moon 🌜
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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