LINGUIST List 4.532

Wed 07 Jul 1993

Disc: Last Posting: Acronyms

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  • Paul T Kershaw, Acronyms (both discussions)
  • David Powers, Re: 4.501 Sum: Redundant acronyms
  • Robert D Hoberman, Acronyms
  • Michael Picone, Derivations of acronyms

    Message 1: Acronyms (both discussions)

    Date: Sun, 27 Jun 93 17:23:44 EDAcronyms (both discussions)
    From: Paul T Kershaw <>
    Subject: Acronyms (both discussions)

    An example I thought of a few days ago but which I have finally gotten the time to offer, concerning both current discussions of acronyms, i.e. the pronouncability issue and the redundancy issue: The common "Please R.S.V.P" (where S.V.P., of course, stands for s'il vous plait = if it you pleases) is redundant (bi-lingually, falling into the soup de jour of the day trap) and, for some speakers (for me and some people I know, at least) is read as "Ruzz-vip" (compared to the pronouncable BYOB = Bring Your Own Beer/Booze, which I've never heard as /bjab/ or /bjob/). Where certain acronyms have vowels but are still spelled out, here we have no vowels but still a word-like pronunciation.

    Also, in the area of acronyms, how do we classify acronyms within acronyms? The TSI, for instance, leaps to mind (TESOL Summer Institute, that is). How deep could we conceivably go? (For instance, if the TSI starts publishing proceedings, could these be the TCP = TSI Conference Papers?) Frightening.

    -- Paul Kershaw, Michigan State University

    Message 2: Re: 4.501 Sum: Redundant acronyms

    Date: Mon, 28 Jun 1993 12:11:07 Re: 4.501 Sum: Redundant acronyms
    From: David Powers <>
    Subject: Re: 4.501 Sum: Redundant acronyms

    There is an interesting interaction between ACRONYMS and TRADEMARKS, because (at least according to US law), trademarks are meant to be used (by their owners) as adjectives, and use as a noun is taken as the first step on the road to becoming generic, redundant acronyms are at times a legal necessity!

    The question is, does this reinforce or merely reflect a tendency to coin adjectives rather than nouns?


    Message 3: Acronyms

    Date: Tue, 29 Jun 1993 12:45:56 Acronyms
    From: Robert D Hoberman <>
    Subject: Acronyms

    Paul Baltes mentioned (in 4.502) "la Cia", an acronym in Spanish though not in English. Here's a similar instance from Hebrew, a language that loves acronyms: the big YMCA in Jerusalem is universally known in Hebrew as the /imka/ (with penult stress).

    Bob Hoberman

    Message 4: Derivations of acronyms

    Date: Fri, 02 Jul 93 11:03:28 CDDerivations of acronyms
    From: Michael Picone <MPICONEUA1VM.UA.EDU>
    Subject: Derivations of acronyms

    Note to Linguist List: a previous mailing was accidentally sent that was not properly edited for posting. Sorry. MP

    Concerning redundant acronyms, Andy Way writes:

    "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."

    Andy may be right about that, but of related interest is the fact that in the Romance languages, the bare acronym serves as a stem for derivations much more readily than in English. I have done a little work on derivations using acronyms as stems in French, as part of an overall look at neological strategies in that language.

    As a good example: both Eng. and Fr. use parallel acronyms as designations for AIDS/SIDA. In Fr., however, this has served as a stem for all kinds of creations: sidatique, sidateux, sidaique (with trema accent over the second i), sideen (with acute accent on first e), sidien, sidastrose, sidatorium, sidalologue, even (playfully) psida or psyda (psychose + sida = AIDS phobia).

    This is a new phenomenon for French which is part of the effort to augment lexical generating resourses that can produce synthetic terms. Some other Romance languages also share this feature, to varying degrees. Surely there is a phonological interface that has to do with the metric and syllable structure that lends itself to this kind of thing.

    N.B. I disagree with the remarks to the effect that in French _sigle_ and _siglaison_ refer only to alphabetisms as opposed to acronyms. _Sigle_ covers the whole general phenomenon, and _acronyme_ refers to a subset. The latter term, in fact, is a borrowing from English that gets limited use in French compared to the widespread use of longstanding _sigle_.

    Michael Picone University of Alabama