Re: Pronouncing initialisms/acronyms (was: e-mail)

Subject: Re: Pronouncing initialisms/acronyms (was: e-mail)
From: "Dennis Hays/The Burden Lake Group, Ltd." <dlhays -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 1996 17:29:36 -0500

As a quick aside:

Years ago I, as a technical recruiter, I had to go to the UK on business.
Besides the many similarities/differences there was the different
pronounciation for the main frame "language" CICS.

In the US, the pronounciation was: See-Eye-See-Ess;
In the UK, the pronounciation was: Kicks.

So be it...

At 06:44 PM 01/14/1996 -0800:
>[I don't have an attribution for the three >> lines; sorry]

>Stuart Reynolds <reynolds -at- ic -dot- net> wrote:

>>>I pronounce URL as you-are-ell, because that seems the natural way to
>>>me. If I'd heard it spoken before I saw it in print I might pronounce
>>>it differently.
>>Uhhhh.. it *is* You-Are-Ell... Uniform Resource Locator, or do people
>>use it, without knowing what the hell it stands for?
> [snip]
>> If you are in doubt, check with the originator
>>form CERN.. Tim Berners-Lee.. who created this addressing scheme, for
>>the World Wide Web, which he had conceived. Actually, I don't know if
>>he is still at CERN or not, but they could tell you.

>This brings up an interesting point: how do we (how does one?)
>decide on pronunciation of neologisms, particularly those used by
>folks who communicate through an unspoken medium such as the Net?
>Does the person who coined a word/an initialism get to determine
>its pronunciation? What if users of said term disagree with the

>The question calls to mind a long thread I saw on the usenet group
>rec.arts.ascii about the pronunciation of GIF (hard G as in gift,
>or soft, as in "Choosy perverts choose GIFs!"?). Such arguments
>as originator's preference, general usage, and the sequence G-I in other
>English-language words (e.g., "giraffe") were put forth. I don't
>recall that any conclusion was reached.

>To bring this back to technical writing: if you are trying to
>decide on "a or an before an initialism" (a fascinating
>thread occurring on copyediting-l right now) and want to
>apply the rule "initial consonant sound gets a; initial vowel
>sound gets an" -- how do you decide on the initial sound of a
>new Net initialism that hasn't made its way into dictionaries
>yet? Is it "a you-are-ell" or "an earl"? And why (or why not)?

>To anyone out there who would use "an you-are-ell" -- how
>about FAQ: is it "an eff-ay-cue" or "a fack"?

>By golly, I probably need to post this to copyediting-l, too.

>Cathy Krusberg
>Internet: ckberg -at- ix -dot- netcom -dot- com

-------------> Dennis Hays, The Burden Lake Group, Ltd.
-------------> Voice: 518/477-6388 Fax: 518/477-5006
-------------> E-Mail: dlhays -at- ix -dot- netcom -dot- com
------------->"God doesn't want you to be certain.
That's why He gave you a brain."

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