[swift-evolution] Analysis of case conventions for initialisms

Charles Kissinger crk at akkyra.com
Fri Feb 12 17:24:16 CST 2016

> On Feb 12, 2016, at 2:45 PM, Jordan Rose via swift-evolution <swift-evolution at swift.org> wrote:
>> On Feb 12, 2016, at 8:58, Dave Abrahams via swift-evolution <swift-evolution at swift.org <mailto:swift-evolution at swift.org>> wrote:
>> on Fri Feb 12 2016, David Waite <swift-evolution at swift.org <mailto:swift-evolution at swift.org>> wrote:
>>> Just to make things more complex, I’d like to point out I’ve used yet
>>> another style myself in the past, #2 with elements of #1 which I’ll
>>> refer to as #4 for the purposes of this mail. (2 << 1). Note that I
>>> have bad grammar, thus I may mess up initialism vs acronym 
>> The only reason the initialism/acronym distinction is important is that
>> the former are much more common and the latter don't have the
>> “mispronounced as a word instead of spelled out” problem.
> I maintain that this is not relevant. Pronouncing "URL" as "erl", "OS" as "oss", "SQL" as "sequel", "PNG" as "ping", or "GIF" as "?iff" doesn't affect how they're spelled, capitalized, lowercased, or uppercased. "Radar" and "scuba" show that it might matter after long exposure, but it doesn't change the rules now. And then there are mixes, like "JPEG" (pronounced "jay-peg", not "j'peg").

It’s perhaps worth pointing out that the capitalization conventions for acronyms differ in different parts of the English-speaking world. For instance, I believe most British publications refer to Nasa and Nato (if their style guides are to be believed anyway), while Americans generally only use NASA and NATO.

And just to add to the confusion, the all-lowercase form of ‘pdf’ has already entered common use even though it’s an initialism:


> The acronym/initialism distinction is artificial categorization that doesn't reflect speakers' mental reality (as indicated by the confusion and reluctance of everyone else on this list using the terms) and certainly doesn't affect orthography in the near term in any other context.
> Jordan
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