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#1 2007-02-19 20:19:11

Destry
Moderator
From: Haut-Rhin
Registered: 2004-08-04
Posts: 4,142
Website

[textile] Abbreviations (acronyms, initialisms, etc)

I’ve stumbled across articles here and there of Standardistas arguing when and when not to use <abbr> over <acronym> in coding. I’m working on an article now that requires a lot of such things and it reminded me to revisit the debate, so I visited the sometimes-trustworthy Wikipedia on the matter of abbreviations to first learn just what the true meanings are, which would then guide knowing which HTML approach to take.

Among other interesting things, I was surprised to find that a real acronym (a kind of abbreviation) is when the resulting abbreviation is pronounced like a word. For example NATO is an actual acronym because it’s pronounced as Nay-toe (well, you get the idea), whereas something like ABC (Always Be Closing) is not an acronym (as implied here).

For a long time now I’ve been marking things up wrong; should have been using <abbr> when I’ve been using <acronym> most of the time. Obviously this is bad for semantics (if anyone bothers looking that closely).

So, I went to the nice Thresholdstate site to find a Textile thingy for an <abbr>, but I don’t see one. That’s when I saw the acronym one being exampled the wrong way.

Does Textile syntax exist for <abbr>, or should I keep doing them with HTML?

(Thanks for all the dedication, Alex)

EDIT: Oh, forgot to mention, and I’ll file the bug report properly, but you cannot use the acronym Textile syntax for two-letter abbreviations (e.g., EU), even if you wanted to mark them up the wrong way.

Last edited by Destry (2007-02-19 20:29:25)


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#2 2007-02-19 20:39:24

maniqui
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From: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Registered: 2004-10-10
Posts: 3,070
Website

Re: [textile] Abbreviations (acronyms, initialisms, etc)

Hi Destry.

I have asked the same before

For now, it seems that we should keep doing them with HTML.


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#3 2007-02-19 21:02:35

Destry
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From: Haut-Rhin
Registered: 2004-08-04
Posts: 4,142
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Re: [textile] Abbreviations (acronyms, initialisms, etc)

Ah, agent M, you’re everywhere! :)

HTML it is.

By the way, <abbr> is now supported in IE7, but you probably know that, so the old debate about using the incorrect <acronym> tag for anything other than a true acronym just to kiss IE’s ass is no longer even a plausible consideration.

However, a semantically neutral way to kiss IE 6 and under’s asses is to use <abbr><span class=“abbr” title=“European Union”>EU</span></abbr>.

In case anyone is wondering (not you, Mr. Maniqui) why bother marking up anything as common as “EU” to begin with, it’s because it improves accessibility, and further Google loves it so your referencing improves as well.

Last edited by Destry (2007-02-19 21:05:27)


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#4 2007-02-19 21:13:15

zem
Developer emeritus
From: Melbourne, Australia
Registered: 2004-04-08
Posts: 2,579
Website

Re: [textile] Abbreviations (acronyms, initialisms, etc)

Textile currently uses acronym because it’s better supported by browsers. It only supports 3+ capital letters because that’s what almost all acronyms look like (EU is an abbreviation not an acronym).

If someone can come up with a syntax for abbreviations that doesn’t clash with anything else I’m happy to look at it.


Alex
tstate

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#5 2007-02-19 21:34:23

Destry
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From: Haut-Rhin
Registered: 2004-08-04
Posts: 4,142
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Re: [textile] Abbreviations (acronyms, initialisms, etc)

zem wrote: Textile currently uses acronym because it’s better supported by browsers.

OK. I’ll stick with real HTML then for real abbreviations (linguistically speaking).

It only supports 3+ capital letters because that’s what almost all acronyms look like

The only three-letter acronym I can think of off the top of my head is “FAQ”, which is pronounced Fack, which in turn is precisely what makes it a real acronym (the fact that it is pronounced like a word). A rather squishy one is SQL, which some people like to pronounce as “Sequal”, and therefore it could be considered a real acronym (though I think not).

Real abbreviations like WWW, CSS, or WTF are not acronyms, but now I’m repeating myself.

(EU is an abbreviation not an acronym)

Yes, that’s what I’ve been saying all along.

… switching gears …

Correction to my earlier example for catering to IE6 and under…the question we are faced with is whether to use a real abbr tag now that IE7 supports it, or to continue using something lame (but semantically neutral) like <span class=“abbr” title=“European Union”>European Union</span> simply for the sake of older IE. It’s up to the individual. What I don’t recommend, for reasons I’ve already stated, is to use an acronym tag for anything that is not a true acronym.

Last edited by Destry (2007-02-19 21:36:25)


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#6 2007-02-19 22:32:33

marios
Plugin Author
Registered: 2005-03-12
Posts: 1,253

Re: [textile] Abbreviations (acronyms, initialisms, etc)

Destry wrote:

or to continue using something lame (but semantically neutral) like <span class=“abbr” title=“European Union”>European Union</span> simply for the sake of older IE. It’s up to the individual. What I don’t recommend, for reasons I’ve already stated, is to use an acronym tag for anything that is not a true acronym.

I don’t know, but I think it would be wrong, no?

Let’s say that IE couldn’t display tables. Would it change anything, if I surrounded all table tags with span tags and give it a class of table ?

Another interesting question: Which one of those two will be supported by W3C specs ?

Acronym, because that’s what poeple had been using since IE didn’t want to implement them, or abbr, because acronyms had been used wrong ? Or both ?

I have been reading and seeing in a couple of places, that most likely W3C is going to drop acronym into deprecated mode entirely and keep only abbreviations as a standard.

Then from a point of view of common sense, the whole distinction between both of them becomes entirely banal, and would be of importance only for screen readers, that could properly handle them.
( Do these exist ?)

regards, marios


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#7 2007-02-19 23:49:32

Destry
Moderator
From: Haut-Rhin
Registered: 2004-08-04
Posts: 4,142
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Re: [textile] Abbreviations (acronyms, initialisms, etc)

As I indicated in the initial post, I discovered this meaning of “acronym” in Wikipedia. Note I also said that Wikipedia is “sometimes-trustworthy.” Well, according to the Internet Acronym Server (since 1988) …

“Contrary to what some sources say, acronyms do not have to be pronounceable words (for example FBI is spelled out when spoken, whereas NASA is not). Some sources use the word initialism to refer to the spelled acronyms.”

Then again, who really knows anything about it at all. I would like to know what the Chicago Manual of Style has to say about it.

At any rate, Marios, you are right, the whole issue is a banal one and if the W3C depracates one of them, good, so much the better.

I still think it makes sense to have Textile functionality for two-letter acronyms. I’m no really sold on Alex’s reasoning behind that one, but I’m too tired to give a valid argument, even though I have one. Heh, like I said, I’m tired.

And I am so done here.

Last edited by Destry (2007-02-20 00:05:40)


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#8 2007-02-19 23:55:17

maniqui
Moderator
From: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Registered: 2004-10-10
Posts: 3,070
Website

Re: [textile] Abbreviations (acronyms, initialisms, etc)

This is a trick for styling abbrs and acronyms through browsers that supports them or not.

abbr,
acronym {border:none}
abbr[title],
acronym[title] {
	border-bottom:1px dotted #666;
	cursor:help;
	font-style:italic;
}

You can also include this in a less than IE7 stylesheet.

* html abbr,
* html acronym {
	border-bottom:1px dotted #666;
	cursor:help;
	font-style:italic;
}

La música ideas portará y siempre continuará

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#9 2007-02-20 01:09:27

zem
Developer emeritus
From: Melbourne, Australia
Registered: 2004-04-08
Posts: 2,579
Website

Re: [textile] Abbreviations (acronyms, initialisms, etc)

Real abbreviations like WWW, CSS, or WTF are not acronyms, but now I’m repeating myself.

I know. I didn’t mean to suggest that 3+ caps always means an acronym. What I meant was the reverse: (almost) all genuine acronyms require at least 3 capital letters in a row. 2 letters, or mixed upper/lowercase, is probably not a genuine acronym, which is why Textile doesn’t recognize something like EU(European Union) or NiN(Nine Inch Nails).

CSS and semantic details are irrelevant until there’s a clear and unambigious Textile syntax for abbreviations.


Alex
tstate

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#10 2007-02-20 01:19:02

maniqui
Moderator
From: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Registered: 2004-10-10
Posts: 3,070
Website

Re: [textile] Abbreviations (acronyms, initialisms, etc)

There are also abbreviations that have a dot at the end, like “Mr.” or “Inc.”.

Maybe that can be used in some way to create an unambiguous syntax for abbreviations in Textile.:
Mr..(Mister)
WWW.(World Wide Web)
But that seems a bit confusing…

Or maybe, more similar to Textile for links.
"Mr.".Mister
"Corp.".Corporation


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