Re: Articles with Acronyms

Subject: Re: Articles with Acronyms
From: Jan Boomsliter <boom -at- CADENCE -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 1995 10:28:48 -0800

Wait a dadburn minute! Let's see if I've got this right:

The use of the article depends on assumed common usage, rather than
what the reader is looking at right there on the paper?


Then we'd have to know exactly what is in each reader's head and each
moment. (Slow down, everybody who wants to point out that that is part
of what we do. I said "exactly.") An awesome task.

Until and unless "scuzzy" becomes the acronym, all you've got is an
abbreviation beginning with the letter "s." If you want "scuzzy," say
"a scuzzy." If you want SCSI, say "an SCSI."

Nitpickers Association of the World

Kelly Burhenne asks:
> Text item: Text_1
> Question: When using an acronym (as you all know, very prevalent in our
> profession) preceded by an article, should you use the article that
> agrees with the first word the acronym represents, or use the article
> that agrees with the pronunciation of the acronym.
> e.g.: an FTP
> a FTP
> a SS2000 (SiteScan 2000)
> or an SS2000
What I've always heard & used is "Use the article the way you'd say it"
so that it subvocalizes correctly. FTP can't be pronounced, you say the
letters, so use "an FTP" -- SCSI, OTOH, is pronounced scuzzy and you'd
say "a scuzzy drive".

Sue Gallagher
Technical Writer
StarBase Corp, Irvine CA
sgallagher -at- starbasecorp -dot- com

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