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Re: abbreviations


From: Jukka K. Korpela
Date: May 28, 2010 11:03AM

Jared Smith wrote:

> [...] acronyms, such as AT. How would
> a screen reader know that it is the acronym AT versus the word "at"
> (or AIDS or aids)?

You seem to use the word "acronym" to mean an initialism, specifically one
that should be read by pronouncing its letters (or maybe expanded to the
expression from which it has been formed). This is a common idea and often
reflected in W3C material, but the original meaning, still what the word
means to many people, is...
"a word (as NATO, radar, or laser) formed from the initial letter or letters
of each of the successive parts or major parts of a compound term"
to quote Merriam-Webster (
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/acronym ).

So it would not be correct at all to read AT as "A T" (ey tee) just because
it has been marked up as an acronym. Quite the opposite: calling it an
acronym should mean that it should be read as a word, like "NATO", "radar",
or "laser"!

We should distinguish between pronunciation and meaning. They are orthogonal
things, logically, though sometimes connected. One of the basic flaws of the
title="..." attribute is that it is supposed to indicate both. Pronunciation
information should be considered as a completely different issue, which is
often relevant to expressions that are not abbreviations in any sense, like
the pronunciation of "record" in English as a verb vs. as a noun.

Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/