Living - and already savoring - the Adventures across the backroads of western Idaho and eastern Oregon!

13 January 2011

Bring me an Fbiism!

[Has he gone loony tunes on us? Again? So soon? Aren’t there med’s for this kinda thing?]

Negative, ghost riders, not crazy, I'm just misusing FBI as an acronym. My whimsical coworker, Michelle P, aka the OB High Priestess of Grammar, today shared with us two great things that I just HAD to pass on to you. Thanks, MP! Besides, who wants to constantly read my fluff anyway?

Let’s explore something meaty today…

1. Check out this heady website, one that appeals to grammar wonks everywhere: http://www.dailywritingtips.com/

2. The Difference between Acronyms and Initialism (paraphrased by Michelle from the website)

Most people know what an acronym is. But few are as familiar with term initialism, or of an important distinction between the two. {TMM note: the red lines on my screen indicate apparently even MS Word’s grammar checker isn’t familiar with it!}

An acronym is an initial abbreviation that can be pronounced as a word, such as NASA or WASP. This term is also used to refer to a series of initials pronounced individually, such as FBI or TGIF, but the technical term is initialism. What’s the BFD (“big, fat deal,” though another word starting ‘with f is sometimes used)? The answer is the ‘period.’

Because acronyms like NASA are pronounced as words (“na-suh,” in this case), there’s no need to precede them with the definite article: You wouldn’t write “Budget cutbacks hit the NASA hard.” (Though the is essential if NASA is used as an adjective, as in “Budget cutbacks hit the NASA project hard.”)

But initialisms require the: “The FBI announced his capture several hours later.” That’s because the term is pronounced letter by letter: “eff-bee-eye.” (The only usage that omits the definite article is in a headline: “FBI Announces Suspect’s Capture.”)

Oh, and one more point, so to speak: Notice that no acronym or initialism is this post includes periods. They’re generally considered outdated and superfluous. Even two-letter forms like AM and PM, MD and RN, and BC and AD go without, though US stubbornly retains them in many publications.

1 comment:

dixiesamplardesigns said...

I concur with MP's assessment of the situation!!

Chief Editor