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  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    About the USA, that’s completely normal, because it’s not an acronym.
    OK, fair enough. But that does beg the question of why we sometimes read off the individual letters, and sometimes read it like a word.

    I have never heard anyone refer to "NASA" by reading the letters individually, N-A-S-A. Now, sticking with US government agencies, it seems like "FBI" would not exactly roll off the tongue if we tried to read it like a word. But "CIA" would work a lot better, but no one ever does it. (Well, I've never heard anyone do it.) For that matter, "USA" would be eminently pronounceable as a word.

    So why acronyms for some things, and abbreviations for others?

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    About the USA, thatís completely normal, because itís not an acronym. We pronounce it as U-S-A, not yusa. If it was pronounced yusa the capitalization might change. Same with UK. It doesnít change to Uk because we donít pronounce it uck.

    With regards to laser, thatís a good point. We tend to forget that words like laser and radar are acronyms and start treating them simply as words.
    "Laser" has even morphed into a vowel, to lase.
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  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheManWithNoName View Post
    So why acronyms for some things, and abbreviations for others?
    Now, abbreviations are a whole different thing again--shortened forms like Rev. for "Reverend" and Prof. for "Professor".[/picky]

    I think sometimes potentially pronouncable initialisms remain un-nymed because they produce words that just don't feel English--for instance, although some people pronounce URL and DOI as acronyms, there seems to be a definite resistance to general adoption.
    And sometimes an initialism takes a while to bed down and become familiar enough for people to start pronouncing it as an acronym. NASA was always "the N-A-S-A" during its early years, and only became an acronym once it had become a household name.
    And sometimes the acronym seems simply too lightweight and friendly to apply to something that is not lightweight and friendly: I think the CIA falls into that category (as well as not looking like an English word); and I can't imagine anyone ever calling the British Secret Intelligence Service "Sis", or the Special Air Service "Sas".

    But sometimes I guess there's no identifiable reason, any more than there's a reason why people start to pronounce words differently.

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  4. #34
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    The weirdest & worst of those is also the newest: "AF". On the rare occasion that I hear it said out loud, it's the names of the two letters, but I see it written lowercase more than in capitals anyway. Why would you make it look like just a word if you don't pronounce it as a word? Maybe the reason is that it's primarily used by the kinds of people for whom capitalization, spelling, and resemblance to actual speech are, in general, pretty much random anyway. People whose writing makes any sense in general aren't the ones using "af".

  5. #35
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    What's AF?

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  6. #36
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    A phrase synonymous with "very" or "extremely", consisting of the preposition "as" followed by a word that is not to be typed here. It's one of at least four functionally identical "as ____" phrases with four different words to choose from for the second spot, the only one of which I know is allowed here is "heck". (The other two start with H and S, but nobody seems to be doing the equivalent initialisms AH and AS.)

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Now, abbreviations are a whole different thing again--shortened forms like Rev. for "Reverend" and Prof. for "Professor".[/picky]
    Grant Hutchison
    And then there's "Mrs." Which is pronounced "Missiz" but is apparently short for "Mistress".
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  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
    A phrase synonymous with "very" or "extremely", consisting of the preposition "as" followed by a word that is not to be typed here. It's one of at least four functionally identical "as ____" phrases with four different words to choose from for the second spot, the only one of which I know is allowed here is "heck". (The other two start with H and S, but nobody seems to be doing the equivalent initialisms AH and AS.)
    Ah, thanks. That explains an apparently redundant coffee-mug / t-shirt slogan that has been puzzling me for a while, and which I won't repeat here.

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  9. #39
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    I've never heard CRISPR, for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, spelled out as an initialism or spoken as an acronym. When I first saw it, I just assumed it would be pronounced "crisper". I see that Wikipedia describes it as an acronym pronounced that way. Some of these things just invite the acronym treatment. [/obvious]

  10. #40
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    Many acronyms are intentionally designed to have certain pronunciations. Often convolutedly so.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Many acronyms are intentionally designed to have certain pronunciations. Often convolutedly so.
    I once wrote a short article speculating how much further science might have advanced over the last few decades if scientists hadn't suddenly started to feel obliged to come up with cute/portentous/pretentious acronyms for everything. How many person-hours are wasted, every year, on that activity?

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  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Many acronyms are intentionally designed to have certain pronunciations. Often convolutedly so.
    Yes, I thought that NASA's "GRACE" mission, for "Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment" was easy to understand and even remember what it stood for.

    Then there's ARTEMIS - "Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moonís Interaction with the Sun", a mission "to study the Earth-Moon Lagrange points, the solar wind, the Moonís plasma wake, and the interaction between Earthís magnetotail and the Moonís own weak magnetism", which was a follow-on to THEMIS, - "Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms".

    I'll never remember either of those.

  13. #43
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    Nothing could ever beat how awful TARDIS is.

  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
    The weirdest & worst of those is also the newest: "AF".
    You'll add a little high fantasy to your life if you choose to assume that they mean "as foretold". For example, "This coffee tastes terrible, as foretold" or "I'm excited, as foretold, to see this movie". Sometimes I can be easily amused by small things.
    Conserve energy. Commute with the Hamiltonian.

  15. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    What's AF?
    Before I read the response I thought it would be atrial fibrillation. Though that is usually pronounced as a mixture of initialism and acronym, as A-fib.
    As above, so below

  16. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    Before I read the response I thought it would be atrial fibrillation. Though that is usually pronounced as a mixture of initialism and acronym, as A-fib.
    Although "V-fib" for "ventricular fibrillation" is sometimes heard in my part of the world, "A-fib" isn't, for some reason--it's always "AF". But the rest of Delvo's description pretty much ruled out atrial fibrillation as an option, I thought.

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  17. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    What's AF?

    Grant Hutchison
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolutely_Fabulous

  18. #48
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    Oh dear I thought it was “Across Flats” as in wrenches/spanners. MGOM (Must get out more. )
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  19. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grey View Post
    You'll add a little high fantasy to your life if you choose to assume that they mean "as foretold". For example, "This coffee tastes terrible, as foretold" or "I'm excited, as foretold, to see this movie". Sometimes I can be easily amused by small things.
    I like that. "As feared" is another possibility.

  20. #50
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    C'mon people! I can't believe I have to spell it for you.


    It's "Air Force".


    Now where's that smirking emoji that no one will misinterpret?
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  21. #51
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    I should have mentioned that it seems to only be used in images for people to spread around on social media because they're so funny. That would have removed all doubt.

  22. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheManWithNoName View Post
    .. it seems like "FBI" would not exactly roll off the tongue if we tried to read it like a word. ...
    I've heard it pronounced as "fibby" several times.

    Although that does seem to be a possibly editorial pronunciation.
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  23. #53
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    Related to the FBI comment, way back in my college days, a student mentioned that he was an ďEE majorĒ in front of one of our professors.
    The professor interjected, ďYou are a ĎDouble Eí major. We are engineers, not mice.Ē
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  24. #54
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    And related to the "AF" discussion, I've now seen it appear in Narcity Media headlines on the MSN news feed.

    If their aim is to appear cool, it's not working with me. I must not be in their target audience.

  25. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim View Post
    I've heard it pronounced as "fibby" several times.

    Although that does seem to be a possibly editorial pronunciation.
    Please watch the episode of Ali G in da USA where he investigates the FBI.

    Had me literally rolling the floor.
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  26. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by pzkpfw View Post
    Please watch the episode of Ali G in da USA where he investigates the FBI.

    Had me literally rolling the floor.
    Donít you mean where he integorrates them?

    He didnít bend the FBI guy over and do a guff on his head though.

  27. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Extravoice View Post
    Related to the FBI comment, way back in my college days, a student mentioned that he was an “EE major” in front of one of our professors.
    The professor interjected, “You are a ‘Double E’ major. We are engineers, not mice.”
    For some reason, people seem to think it’s funny if you pronounce SUV (sport utility vehicle) as soov, so now I do it a lot

  28. #58
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    The state of Texas has gone through several renamings of its environmental department. One such iteration was Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission, or TNRCC, which became "tin rick."

    Except among those who had to deal directly with it. To us it was "train wreck."
    Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by ignorance or stupidity.
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  29. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by grapes View Post
    For some reason, people seem to think it’s funny if you pronounce SUV (sport utility vehicle) as soov, so now I do it a lot
    Toyota persists in putting large "TRD" decals on the side of their trucks.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

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