or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Friday, July 15, 2005

Short and Sweet

No Friday cat blogging today, as we have no cat of our own and I've already run out of pictures of Mr. P. You can always go back to the last two Fridays and look at those, though; he's very cute. Or just Google "friday cat blogging"; lots to see there.

On to other business. From today's Salon.com sports column:

"TV networks don't focus on banners showing nothing but a URL. What if it's a URL for a porn site, or a white-power site or a site about how much the TV network sucks?"

"A URL" still jars. I don't know about you, but I've been treating it as an acronym ever since I first saw it, and so as far as I'm concerned, it ought to be pronounced "an earl" and not "a you-are-ell".

An acronym, in case it isn't completely clear from the context, is a word formed from the initials of other words. It's different from an abbreviation, which uses the first few letters of a word and possibly some others to confuse matters, such as "abbr." for "abbreviation" or "Mrs." for "Mistress". It's also different from an initialism, which uses the first letters of words or syllables but makes no attempt to form them into a word, such as "DNA" for deoxyribonucleic acid or "TNT" for trinitrotoluene. An abbreviation is either pronounced as if it were the full word or given its own unique pronounciation; an initialism is invariably spelled out letter for letter. But an acronym is first and foremost a word: that means it can be pronounced as if it were a word, like "sonar", which is an acronym for "SOund Navigation And Ranging". (The rules for creating an acronym are pleasantly loose.) And "URL" is self-evidently an acronym to me. It looks like a word: it can be pronounced like a word. And therefore it is a word. "A URL" in print just seems wrong to me.


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