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charley

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Feb 14, 2007, 2:59:52 PM2/14/07
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what do you use for an acronym whose consonant first letter is
pronounced starting with a vowel?

do you say:

a SPCA donation (a society for the protection of animals)

or

an SPCA (espeeceea) donation.

orally its one thing, but in print one has the tendency to read it
either as an acronym or the whole title.

thoughts?

david
www.dcgphotography.com

Skitt

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Feb 14, 2007, 3:18:27 PM2/14/07
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charley wrote:

Since it is the sound that determines which article form to use, "an" is the
right choice.
--
Skitt
Jes' fine!

Purl Gurl

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Feb 14, 2007, 3:28:18 PM2/14/07
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charley wrote:

> what do you use for an acronym whose consonant first letter is
> pronounced starting with a vowel?

> do you say:

> a SPCA donation (a society for the protection of animals)

> or

> an SPCA (espeeceea) donation.

> orally its one thing, but in print one has the tendency to read it
> either as an acronym or the whole title.

Reminds me of a boy here who critiqued me for this usage,

"A opossum...."

Quite the reverse of your example. Nonetheless, "an" is
appropriate when a word begins with a vowel sound, not
so much begins with a vowel letter.

"A height."
"An hour."
"An SPCA event."

Purl Gurl

Mike Lyle

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Feb 14, 2007, 3:29:52 PM2/14/07
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Right. But, for completeness, let's note that "SPCA" isn't an acronym,
it's just an initialism or whatever you like calling them. It would be
an acronym precisely if the first letter were _not_ pronounced "ess". .
. the only example I can think of is a Brit trade union called "SOGAT",
pronounced "so-gat". In that case we'd say "A SOGAT subscription".

Actually, I spoke too soon. There _is_ a special class of real acronyms
beginning with consonants which are pronounced as their names: "SRAM" is
pronounced "essram", and I'd use "an" before it.

--
Mike.

--
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com

Oleg Lego

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Feb 14, 2007, 3:33:05 PM2/14/07
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The charley entity posted thusly:

Since it is not an acronym, but an initialism, 'an' is correct, since
you never speak it as "Sp'ca", but always as "ess pee see ay".

The environmental group "Society Promoting Environmental
Conservation", or 'SPEC' (which IS an acronym), could use either, but
I prefer to use the article appropriate with the pronunciation rather
than the spelling, so "a SPEC member".

Fred

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Feb 14, 2007, 3:52:45 PM2/14/07
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"charley" <dgibso...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1171483192.5...@l53g2000cwa.googlegroups.com...

I vote for an.


Mark Brader

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Feb 14, 2007, 6:25:27 PM2/14/07
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"Charley":

>>> what do you use for an acronym whose consonant first letter is
>>> pronounced starting with a vowel?

This was answered in the "Intro D" mini-FAQ posting about 4 hours
before the question was posted.

Mike Lyle:


> Right. But, for completeness, let's note that "SPCA" isn't an acronym,
> it's just an initialism or whatever you like calling them. It would be
> an acronym precisely if the first letter were _not_ pronounced "ess". .

No, it's an acronym if it's used as a word. That's a separate issue
from how it's pronounced.
--
Mark Brader "HE'S the brains of the outfit."
Toronto "What does that make you?"
m...@vex.net "What else? An executive!"
-- the Rocky & Bullwinkle show

Adrian Bailey

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Feb 15, 2007, 8:32:50 AM2/15/07
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"Purl Gurl" <purl...@purlgurl.net> wrote in message
news:QKadnbDtNeh57U7Y...@giganews.com...

> charley wrote:
>
> > what do you use for an acronym whose consonant first letter is
> > pronounced starting with a vowel?
>
> > do you say:
>
> > a SPCA donation (a society for the protection of animals)
>
> > or
>
> > an SPCA (espeeceea) donation.
>
> > orally its one thing, but in print one has the tendency to read it
> > either as an acronym or the whole title.

an

> Reminds me of a boy here who critiqued

criticized

> me for this usage,
>
> "A opossum...."

Adrian


Purl Gurl

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Feb 15, 2007, 8:55:05 AM2/15/07
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Adrian Bailey wrote:

> Purl Gurl wrote:
>> charley wrote:

(snipped, corrected quoting order)

>>> what do you use for an acronym whose consonant first letter is
>>> pronounced starting with a vowel?

>> Reminds me of a boy here who critiqued
>> me for this usage,

>> "A opossum...."

> criticized

No, critiqued.

There is at least one article in archives for this group
which discusses recently emerged differences between
"critique" and "criticize" usage.

For centuries "critique" and "criticize" were directly
interchangeable in usage. This is not so for modern
English language usage.

Today, "critique" is a milder, a more polite usage to
describe a review, positive or negative, of a person's
thoughts, utterances, writings, actions, whatever.

"Criticize" has taken on a purely negative meaning
and should be used when intent is confrontation.

For the context of my original "opossum" incident,
knowledge of which you apparently have none, this
boy's critique was not negative nor contained
stereotypical hatred so common amongst participants
of this newsgroup. His critique amounted to nothing
more than a simple blunder of enunciation; a silent
"o" much like a silent "g" for gnome.

My usage of "critique" is a display of my being polite.

Purl Gurl

Mike Lyle

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Feb 15, 2007, 10:59:46 AM2/15/07
to
On Feb 14, 11:25�pm, m...@vex.net (Mark Brader) wrote:
[...]
> MikeLyle:

>
> > Right. But, for completeness, let's note that "SPCA" isn't an acronym,
> > it's just an initialism or whatever you like calling them. It would be
> > an acronym precisely if the first letter were _not_ pronounced "ess". .
>
> No, it's an acronym if it's used as a word.  That's a separate issue
> from how it's pronounced.

Interesting. I don't see how pronunciation can be left out of it. Can
you quote an example of an initialism which is _not_ used as a word?

--
Mike.

Mark Brader

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Apr 6, 2007, 3:42:28 AM4/6/07
to
In mid-February, Mike Lyle and I (Mark Brader) wrote:
>>> Right. But, for completeness, let's note that "SPCA" isn't an acronym,
>>> it's just an initialism or whatever you like calling them. It would be
>>> an acronym precisely if the first letter were _not_ pronounced "ess". .

>> No, it's an acronym if it's used as a word. That's a separate issue
>> from how it's pronounced.

> Interesting. I don't see how pronunciation can be left out of it. Can
> you quote an example of an initialism which is _not_ used as a word?

It took me a while to think of one, because in most cases there's no
evidence of this in the way the thing is written. My example is RBI,
used to mean both "run batted in" and "runs batted in". The fact that
the inflection disappears in the plural proves that RBI is being used
as an abbreviation and not a word. If you search in Google News on
the phrase "2 RBI", the first hit right now is

In the doubleheader with Dominican, JD Rotzoll (Prospect) went 4-
for-8 with 3 runs scored and 2 RBI and is hitting .357.

You can also find examples where people write "2 RBI's" or "2 RBIs";
these people *are* using RBI as a word.
--
Mark Brader, Toronto, m...@vex.net
#define MSB(type) (~(((unsigned type)-1)>>1))

My text in this article is in the public domain.

Mike Lyle

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Apr 6, 2007, 7:56:38 AM4/6/07
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On Apr 6, 8:42�am, m...@vex.net (Mark Brader) wrote:

> In mid-February,MikeLyleand I (Mark Brader) wrote:
>
> >>> Right. But, for completeness, let's note that "SPCA" isn't an acronym,
> >>> it's just an initialism or whatever you like calling them. It would be
> >>> an acronym precisely if the first letter were _not_ pronounced "ess". .
> >> No, it's an acronym if it's used as a word.  That's a separate issue
> >> from how it's pronounced.
> > Interesting. I don't see how pronunciation can be left out of it. Can
> > you quote an example of an initialism which is _not_ used as a word?
>
> It took me a while to think of one, because in most cases there's no
> evidence of this in the way the thing is written.  My example is RBI,
> used to mean both "run batted in" and "runs batted in".  The fact that
> the inflection disappears in the plural proves that RBI is being used
> as an abbreviation and not a word.  If you search in Google News on
> the phrase "2 RBI", the first hit right now is
>
>    In the doubleheader with Dominican, JD Rotzoll (Prospect) went 4-
>    for-8 with 3 runs scored and 2 RBI and is hitting .357.
>
> You can also find examples where people write "2 RBI's" or "2 RBIs";
> these people *are* using RBI as a word.

Good thinking, but how do you classify those many abbreviations and
initialisms in which the plural is the same as the singular? "MPH" and
"m/s", for example.

--
Mike


Evan Kirshenbaum

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Apr 6, 2007, 1:24:17 PM4/6/07
to
m...@vex.net (Mark Brader) writes:

> In mid-February, Mike Lyle and I (Mark Brader) wrote:
>> Interesting. I don't see how pronunciation can be left out of
>> it. Can you quote an example of an initialism which is _not_ used
>> as a word?
>
> It took me a while to think of one, because in most cases there's no
> evidence of this in the way the thing is written. My example is
> RBI, used to mean both "run batted in" and "runs batted in". The
> fact that the inflection disappears in the plural proves that RBI is
> being used as an abbreviation and not a word. If you search in
> Google News on the phrase "2 RBI", the first hit right now is
>
> In the doubleheader with Dominican, JD Rotzoll (Prospect) went 4-
> for-8 with 3 runs scored and 2 RBI and is hitting .357.
>
> You can also find examples where people write "2 RBI's" or "2 RBIs";
> these people *are* using RBI as a word.

My impression is that "RBI" as a plural is a very recent
hypercorrection. I certainly remember stumbling over "2 RBI", as
opposed to the "2 RBIs" it was when I was a kid.

A clearer case might be "RPM", although that patterns the same way as
"hertz".

--
Evan Kirshenbaum +------------------------------------
HP Laboratories |The law of supply and demand tells us
1501 Page Mill Road, 1U, MS 1141 |that when the price of something is
Palo Alto, CA 94304 |artificially set below market level,
|there will soon be none of that thing
kirsh...@hpl.hp.com |left--as you may have noticed the
(650)857-7572 |last time you tried to buy something
|for nothing.
http://www.kirshenbaum.net/ | P.J. O'Rourke


Mark Brader

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Apr 6, 2007, 5:57:52 PM4/6/07
to
Mike Like misquotes:

>> In mid-February,MikeLyleand I (Mark Brader) wrote:

There were normal inter-word spaces in there when I posted that line,
and I'm kind of curious where they went.

>>> Can you quote an example of an initialism which is _not_ used
>>> as a word?

>> It took me a while to think of one, because in most cases there's no
>> evidence of this in the way the thing is written. My example is RBI,

>> used to mean both "run batted in" and "runs batted in". ...

> Good thinking, but how do you classify those many abbreviations and
> initialisms in which the plural is the same as the singular?

As abbreviations rather than words. I don't see any reason for using
the ugly word "initialism", incidentally.

> "MPH"

Certainly an abbreviation, and this is one of the rare cases where
pronunciation does provide evidence for it.

> and "m/s", for example.

This is an international standard notation and not an English usage.
The standard defines it as a symbol, so it's a symbol.
--
Mark Brader, Toronto | "Professor, I think I have a counterexample."
m...@vex.net | "That's all right; I have two proofs."

Mark Brader

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Apr 6, 2007, 6:04:18 PM4/6/07
to
Mark Brader:

> > My example is RBI, used to mean both "run batted in" and "runs batted
> > in". ...

Evan Kirshenbaum:


> My impression is that "RBI" as a plural is a very recent
> hypercorrection. I certainly remember stumbling over "2 RBI", as
> opposed to the "2 RBIs" it was when I was a kid.

The more informal the register, the more likely it is for abbreviations
to get turned into words. So an alternative hypothesis is that when
Evan was a kid, he talked about baseball more than he read about it.
Searches of old newspapers might resolve this.

> A clearer case might be "RPM",

Or not. The thing is that in this case the unit is rarely used for
thing revolving as slowly as once per minute. So it's possible to see
"RPM" as a plural with no singular, thus providing no trace of how it
would have been inflected if formed from a singular.

> although that patterns the same way as "hertz".

I'm not sure what Evan means there.
--
Mark Brader, Toronto | "The problem is that tax lawyers are
m...@vex.net | amazingly creative." -- David Sherman

Evan Kirshenbaum

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Apr 6, 2007, 7:11:10 PM4/6/07
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m...@vex.net (Mark Brader) writes:

> Mark Brader:
>> > My example is RBI, used to mean both "run batted in" and "runs batted
>> > in". ...
>
> Evan Kirshenbaum:
>> My impression is that "RBI" as a plural is a very recent
>> hypercorrection. I certainly remember stumbling over "2 RBI", as
>> opposed to the "2 RBIs" it was when I was a kid.
>
> The more informal the register, the more likely it is for
> abbreviations to get turned into words. So an alternative
> hypothesis is that when Evan was a kid, he talked about baseball
> more than he read about it. Searches of old newspapers might
> resolve this.

They might.

Drescher had four RBI's [_NY Times_, 9/2/1944]

Mize's three RBIs upped his total to 114. [_LA Times_, 9/17/1948]

Easter's three RBIs of the day increased his total to 87 [_LA
Times_, 6/13/1949]

John O'Neil Paces Twinks With Four RBI's; Three Hits [_LA Times_,
7/19/1950]

Thus the Clipper picked up four RBI's for the game. [_NY Times_,
9/11/1950]

The second knocked out Simmons and produced Carl's first two RBI's
since May 6. [_NY Times_, 5/28/1954]

I see "3 RBI" in a 1948 headline, and from a mom's story about learning
the language of baseball:

In due time I was able to decipher the strange alphabetic
utterances which punctuated my sons' conversations, and to
translate the enthusastic report: "I was AB six times, had four
RBI, got two BB and was SO only once." [_LA Times_, 8/8/1948]

but that's so far from my experience that I'd like to hear
corroboration from people who were around then.

The earliest plural I can find, though, does go the other way:

Etten's seventh-inning homer in the nightcap boosted his RBI to
45. [_NY Times_, 7/4/1943]

>> A clearer case might be "RPM",
>
> Or not. The thing is that in this case the unit is rarely used for
> thing revolving as slowly as once per minute. So it's possible to
> see "RPM" as a plural with no singular, thus providing no trace of
> how it would have been inflected if formed from a singular.
>
>> although that patterns the same way as "hertz".
>
> I'm not sure what Evan means there.

I mean that "45 RPM" appears to be grammatically equivalent to "45
hertz", so the status of "RPM" as a word would seem to be the same as
that of "hertz".

--
Evan Kirshenbaum +------------------------------------
HP Laboratories |The mystery of government is not how
1501 Page Mill Road, 1U, MS 1141 |Washington works, but how to make it
Palo Alto, CA 94304 |stop.
| P.J. O'Rourke
kirsh...@hpl.hp.com
(650)857-7572

http://www.kirshenbaum.net/


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