LINGUIST List 4.501

Sun 27 Jun 1993

Sum: Redundant acronyms

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  1. , Redundant acronyms

Message 1: Redundant acronyms

Date: Wed, 23 Jun 93 16:02:57 BSRedundant acronyms
From: <>
Subject: Redundant acronyms

Hi there,
Here is a summary of the data collected to date in our search for "redundant
acronyms". Many thanks to all who contributed - where someone has added an
explanation of their term I've appended it here.

One thing of note: no (or very few, at any rate) contributions (as yet) from
non-English speaking countries. I think it may be a phenomenon from noun-final
languages rather than noun-initial ones like the Romance languages, but we'll
have to wait and see.

I'll maintain a list and re-submit if the numbers merit this.

Many thanks again,

Andy Way.


PIN Number (Personal ID Number, i.e. the number you type in
 during transactions with cashpoint machines to verify
 that you really are who you say you are ...)

AIB Bank (Allied Irish Bank)

DAG graph (Directed Acyclic Graph): sound OK to people who don't know (well)
what DAGs are ... this too, I can attest to, from CS classes

VAT tax (Value Added Tax, i.e. a sales tax) : heard in the US, where they
don't have one, so it isn't familiar.

DAG graphs sound OK to people who don't know (well) what DAGs are...
this too, I can attest to, from CS classes.

AC current (Alternating Current): also DC current (Direct Current)

DRT theory (Discourse Representation Theory): known by all semanticists, and
often referred to as such by Hans Kamp, the `inventor' of DRT!

RF frequency (Radio Frequency): as opposed, for example, to audio frequencies.

Similarly "IF frequency", where IF stands for "intermediate frequency" (in
radios and TV's, signals are converted to an "intermediate frequency" for
amplification and filtering before being converted to audio and video signals).

SAT test (Scholastic Aptitude Test): I have only heard it among speakers of
Southern American English (North Carolina variety), but I can easily imagine
that other dialects have it as well. The extra "test" generalizes to the
similar PSAT (Preparatory Scholastic Aptitude Test), yielding "PSAT test." I
think I have also heard "CAT test" (California Aptitude Test test -- another
standardized test that children in middle school must take).

START Treaty: (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty)

HIV virus

TCP/IP protocol and its cousins the POP, IMAP and SMTP protocols.

ISBN Number (International Standard Book Number)

HPSG grammar (Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar): as in "I've written an
HPSG grammar with good syntactic coverage."? This may not exactly be
redundant, as the "Grammar" in the acronym refers to the theory, and the 2nd
occurrence of "grammar" refers to a particular grammar written in that
framework. But I'm more likely to say "I've written a Relational Grammar" than
"I've written a Relational Grammar grammar."

Similarly LFG, GPSG grammars

SALT talks (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks): between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.

OPEC countries (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries)

the NATO organization (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

EMP pulse (Electro-Magnetic Pulse)

the DMZ zone (De-Militarized Zone)

SIN Number (Social Insurance Number): Canadian equivalent of US Social
Security number. Very commonly said.

NDP Party (New Democratic Party): the third party in Canadian politics.
Again, very commonly said.

UCB Bank (united california bank)
TWA Airlines

GUI (pronounced gooey) interface (Graphical User Interface), the Macintosh
interface. Also SCSI ("scuzzy") port: (Small Computer Systems Interface).

A truely bizarre case is the name of a chain of auto parts stores in
the Boston area. The name was American Discount Auto Parts,
abbreviated ADAP - but then later commercial jingles refered to it as
"ADAP Discount Auto Parts" - were the last three initials are
redundant, or alternatively, this has become a recursive Acronym,
where ADAP stands for ADAP Discount Auto Parts.

PAT time (Planned Activity Time): This is a term for compulsory after-hours
activities for teachers, such as discussing policy documents, and is used in
such utterances as "Our next PAT time is a week on Wednesday."

RISC computers (Restricted Instruction Set Computer)

IBM Machine

LCD Display (Liquid Crystal Display)

ICU unit (Intensive Care Unit): American.

BNF form (Backus-Naur Form): formalism for writing grammars, algorithms etc.

Some slightly different cases:

LED light (Light-emitting-diode).

ISO standard (International Standards Organisation)

SCUBA gear (A=apparatus)

Departmental teaching loads (and hence funding) are calculated in
terms of Equivalent Full Time Students. So many hours = 1 EFTS.
Some of us are succumbing to the obvious temptation: How many efts
in this course? Will it matter if we lose an eft or two? - an observation from
New Zealand.

A similar kind of redundancy can be seen throughout bilingual
(English-French) canada, where signs like "Bank Montreal Bank" are common.
I assume that French speakers are to leave off the last word "Bank Montreal,"
while English speakers are expected to leave off the first word
"Montreal Bank."

and favorite non-acronyms:
foot pedal

in the department of misused acronyms:
one MIP (MIPS = millions of instructions per second)
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