Talk:initialism

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By the definition here (and in other dictionaries), TNT listed as a prime example is not an initialism since the N and T are from non-initial letters.

I'm in two minds as to whether to label "initialism" as a misnomer since it is very often applied to items created from non-initial letters, or to remove or relabel words we label as initialisms which do not match this definition. — Hippietrail 21:27, 18 August 2005 (UTC)

One could argue that they are morpheme-initial letters, and could be legitimately labeled "initial" in that sense. Nohat 18:37, 26 September 2005 (UTC)

There are No Initialisms in America[edit]

I'm sorry, but the idea that the way in which an abbreviation is pronounced should determine whether it is classified with an Abbreviation or Initialism dictionary heading is just ludicrous. The words are still abbreviations, even if they demonstrate the properties of an initialism. The same holds true for abbreviations that demonstrate the properties of a palindrome or an anagram.

A second problem here is the strict criteria for an abbreviation to be classified an initialism; suggesting it be both the first-letter initials from words of a phrase, and mandating that those initials be verbalized letter for letter when saying them. Unfortunately, it only takes one language or dialect to break those rules for that word, before it defaults back to a regular old abbreviation.

Here are some examples of potential initialsms or pairs of initalisms, and how they may be pronounced differently.

SMTP, clearly pronounced S. M. T. P. Nobody has attempted otherwise. However, its sisters...
IMAP, pronounced either I. M. A. P. or /I-map/ and
POP3, almost exclusively pronounced /Pop-3/
URL, pronounced either U. R. L. or /Earl/
ROFL, is either R. O. F. L or /Rah-foll/ depending on who you ask

You may even be surprised to know that new "AOLers" are using the word nasal as a cute form of A/S/L, which was also deemed an idnitialism.

In light of all this confusion, I wish to propose all abbreviations categorized as Initialisms be re-categorized as Abbreviations, and instead given some property tag that identifies this unique sub-trait. ~ Agvulpine 08:17, 29 January 2008 (UTC)


Interesting. I have been a bit troubled by Abbreviations myself, but by the lack of proper Parts of Speech and handling of pluralization. Most are nouns, some proper, some not. Some are other parts of speech. Some are used as different parts of speech. Some nouns can have plurals, some can't. The Abbreviation/Initialism distinction provides some guidance as the how the abbreviation is pronounced, without requiring a full pronunciation section. Let's see what kind of discussion we get here. DCDuring TALK 10:27, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
I, too, am troubled by the lack of parts of speech, pluralization, etc., as I've noted elsewhere. (Just adding my voice to the clamor.)—msh210 18:16, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
  • I've long held the same view as Agvulpine, but the powers of hypercorrection or whatever you wish to call it can be strong on Wiktionary. The Category system can be used for noting that an abbreviation is also an initialism, but just Abbreviation should be the actual heading - and it need not be linked either. — hippietrail 12:27, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
There was someone else who was interested in a little reform of this area. Let me look through my posts. If we have enough interest we might be able to sustain the effort to make something good happen. DCDuring TALK 15:07, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
I have moved some thoughts on Abbreviations to my talk page pending it becoming more apparent to me what the real problems are (documentation, entry structure, missing templates, ...). I also have to look at the archives for the earlier discussions. DCDuring TALK 19:05, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

Related discussion --Guy Macon (talk) 09:29, 22 February 2013 (UTC)

  • The discussion referred to by Guy Macon is archived at: [[1]]. DCDuring TALK 16:10, 12 January 2015 (UTC)