Then you shouldn't have included the link. It
says that acronyms, intialisms and alphabetisms
are abbreviations. I've been retired for over 8
years so I may be behind the times. But, during
20 years of writing and editing, I never heard or
saw the word initialism. Probably because there
is no need. For example, saying "FBI is the
initialism of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation," is a rather stupid way of saying
that FBI is(are) the initials of ..........."
BTW, none of my dictionaries have a definition of
initialism. I didn't bother to look up
alphabetism but I've never heard anyone use the
term and it is not found in any of the style
guides I used. Again, probably because there is
very little to no opportunity to use it and not
In the Wikipedia article, the constructed argument
defining the differences and uses among various
types of abbreviations may be entertaining and
somewhat informative but is mostly nonsense.
Abbreviations are not constructed based on some
set of abstract rules but are usually introduced
as a convenience in writing or speaking and may
vary with the writer or speaker. If a person
introduces an abbreviation that is useful and that
form is accepted, it becomes common, but may
persist only for a short time.
Another BTW, the author has made some rather silly
mistakes in selecting and describing some foreign
language examples. I give only one. The author
says Chinese is a syllable-based writing system.
It is not, it is a word based system. The
pronunciation of some characters have a complex
sound that in English we would be interpreted as
more than one syllable; much different from
Japanese. Also, his interpretation of daxue is as
laughable as interpreting high school in English
to mean tall school.
Abbreviations is a general classification and the others are more
specific. Abbreviations doesn't specify how the word was shortened,
the others do. I'm not sure how you could construe what I wrote to
mean something else, but as you did, I'll apologize for not being
Just because you haven't encountered something doesn't mean it doesn't
Like I said in an earlier post, initialism was a new one on me, and I
thanked Steve for pointing it out.
Oops I lost track of the thread. My statement was
to Charlie Morgan. Then you answered and I
responded as though you were Charlie Morgan.
Sorry about that.
Sure it does. ;)
Seriously, people that use abbreviations,
acronyms, and such don't have any reason to use
intialism or the more hideous alphabetism. They
just want the correct abbreviation. Pretty soon
we may have to discuss numberisms, symbolisms, and
capitalisms. Thank god capitalism is already used
for something else.
BTW, doesn't alphabetism mean using the alphabet?
Isn't that usually called writing? I see these
terms were used at the beginning of the last
century, apparently they died a needed death for
most American dictionaries. Silly word and phrase
usage is a real poke in the eye for me. Oh well,
I'll just shut up for now.
On Fri, 3 Nov 2006 21:02:19 -0600, "Steve Barker LT"
I feel that way too. Since a lot of people get angry, I created a web
page where I post stuff like that.
A lot of it is apostrophes that don't belong. I included a bunch of
Also, references to the FBI often just say fibs.
If one can make a pronounceable word, even if it
doesn't follow the initials, it will usually be
pronounced that way by a large portion of the
people. Way easier to say one or two syllables
than three or four initials.
The question was valid.
Good one. This reminds me: One day at Lowes I asked where the RMC
was. After some explanation the guy realized what I wanted was
"thick-wall" conduit. --Not that electricians are a bunch of dummies
but there is NEC way of referring to things and everyone else's way.
I'm sorry, what did you say? ;)
If someone randomly interjects the initialism EMT, yes, I would also
think of ambulances and spurting arteries. But if I were talking to
someone about construction and electrical work, and wiring and related
materials in particular, EMT means conduit. It's impossible to be
clear in any language without taking into account context. If
elaborations are required and the odd misunderstanding takes place, the
odds are it won't be a critical oversight.
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