An abbreviation (from Latin brevis, meaning short ) is a shortened form of a word or phrase. It consists of a group of letters taken from the word or phrase. For example, the word abbreviation can itself be represented by the abbreviation abbr., abbrv., or abbrev.
In strict analysis, abbreviations should not be confused with contractions, crasis, , or , with which they share some semantic and phonetic functions, though all four are connected by the term "abbreviation" in loose parlance.
Abbreviations in English were frequently used from its earliest days. Manuscripts of copies of the old English poem Beowulf used many abbreviations, for example 7 or & for and, and y for since, so that "not much space is wasted". Gelderen, E. v, A History of the English Language: Revised edition, John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2014, Ch. 4 1. The standardisation of English in the 15th through 17th centuries included such a growth in the use of abbreviations. Spelling Society : Shortcuts 1483–1660 Doesn't work. At first, abbreviations were sometimes represented with various suspension signs, not only periods. For example, sequences like ‹er› were replaced with ‹ɔ›, as in ‹mastɔ› for master and ‹exacɔbate› for exacerbate. While this may seem trivial, it was symptomatic of an attempt by people manually reproducing academic texts to reduce the copy time. An example from the Oxford University Register, 1503:
The Early Modern English period, between the 15th and 17th centuries, had abbreviations like ye for Þe, used for the word the: "hence, by later misunderstanding, Ye Olde Tea Shoppe."Lass, R., The Cambridge History of the English Language, Cambridge University Press, 2006, Vol. 2, p. 36.
During the growth of philology linguistic theory in academic Britain, abbreviating became very fashionable. The use of abbreviation for the names of J. R. R. Tolkien and his friend C. S. Lewis, and other members of the Oxford literary group known as the Inklings, are sometimes cited as symptomatic of this. Likewise, a century earlier in Boston, a fad of abbreviation started that swept the United States, with the globally popular term Okay generally credited as a remnant of its influence.
After World War II, the British greatly reduced the use of the full stop and other punctuation points after abbreviations in at least semi-formal writing, while the Americans more readily kept such use until more recently, and still maintain it more than Britons. The classic example, considered by their American counterparts quite curious, was the maintenance of the internal comma in a British organisation of secret agents called the "Special Operations, Executive"—"S.O., E"—which is not found in histories written after about 1960.
But before that, many Britons were more scrupulous at maintaining the French form. In French, the period only follows an abbreviation if the last letter in the abbreviation is not the last letter of its antecedent: "M." is the abbreviation for "monsieur" while "Mme" is that for "madame". Like many other cross-English Channel linguistic acquisitions, many Britons readily took this up and followed this rule themselves, while the Americans took a simpler rule and applied it rigorously.
Over the years, however, the lack of convention in some style guides has made it difficult to determine which two-word abbreviations should be abbreviated with periods and which should not. The U.S. media tend to use periods in two-word abbreviations like United States (U.S.), but not personal computer (PC) or television (TV). Many British publications have gradually done away with the use of periods in abbreviations.
Minimization of punctuation in typewritten material became economically desirable in the 1960s and 1970s for the many users of carbon-film ribbons since a period or comma consumed the same length of non-reusable expensive ribbon as did a capital letter.
Widespread use of electronic communication through mobile phones and the Internet during the 1990s allowed for a marked rise in colloquial abbreviation. This was due largely to increasing popularity of textual communication services such as instant- and text messaging. SMS, for instance, supports message lengths of 160 characters at most (using the GSM 03.38 character set). This brevity gave rise to an informal abbreviation scheme sometimes called SMS language, with which 10% or more of the words in a typical SMS message are abbreviated.Crystal, David. . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. More recently Twitter, a popular social networking service, began driving abbreviation use with 140 character message limits.
According to Hart's Rules, the traditional rule is that abbreviations (in the narrow sense that includes only words with the ending, and not the middle, dropped) terminate with a full stop, whereas contractions (in the sense of words missing a middle part) do not, but there are exceptions. Fowler's Modern English Usage says full stops are used to mark both abbreviations and contractions, but recommends against this practice: advising them only for abbreviations and lower-case initialisms and not for upper-case initialisms and contractions.
|The Right Honourable||Contraction and Abbreviation||Rt Hon.||R——t Hon...|
In American English, the period is usually included regardless of whether or not it is a contraction, e.g. Dr. or Mrs.. In some cases, periods are optional, as in either US or U.S. for United States, EU or E.U. for European Union, and UN or U.N. for United Nations. There are some house styles, however—American ones included—that remove the periods from almost all abbreviations. For example:
Acronyms that were originally capitalized (with or without periods) but have since entered the vocabulary as generic words are no longer written with capital letters nor with any periods. Examples are sonar, radar, lidar, laser, SNAFU, and Scuba set.
Today, spaces are generally not used between single-letter abbreviations of words in the same phrase, so one almost never encounters "U. S."
When an abbreviation appears at the end of a sentence, only one period is used: The capital of the United States is Washington, D.C.
However, the 1999 style guide for The New York Times states that the addition of an apostrophe is necessary when pluralizing all abbreviations, preferring "PC's, TV's and VCR's".Siegal, AM., Connolly, WG., The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, Three Rivers Press, 1999, p. 24.
Following those who would generally omit the apostrophe, to form the plural of run batted in, simply add an s to the end of RBI.
For all other rules, see below:
To form the plural of an abbreviation, a number, or a capital letter used as a noun, simply add a lowercase s to the end. Apostrophes following decades and single letters are also common.
To indicate the plural of the abbreviation or symbol of a unit of measure, the same form is used as in the singular.
When an abbreviation contains more than one full point, Hart's Rules recommends putting the s after the final one.
According to Hart's Rules, an apostrophe may be used in rare cases where clarity calls for it, for example when letters or symbols are referred to as objects.
In Latin, and continuing to the derivative forms in European languages as well as English, single-letter abbreviations had the plural being a doubling of the letter for note-taking. Most of these deal with writing and publishing. A few longer abbreviations use this as well.
|f.||following line or page||ff.||notes|
|J.||Justice||JJ.||law (job title)|
|op.||opus (plural: opera)||opp.||notes|
|s. (or §)||section||ss. (or §§)||notes|
The shorthand "in" applies to English only—in Afrikaans for example, the shorthand "dm" is used for the equivalent Afrikaans word "duim". Since both "in" and "dm" are contractions of the same word, but in different languages, they are abbreviations. A symbol on the other hand, defined as "Mark or character taken as the conventional sign of some object or idea or process" applies the appropriate shorthand by substitution rather than by contraction. Since the shorthand for kilometre/kilometer ( quilômetro in Portuguese or χιλιόμετρο in Greek) is "km" in both languages and the letter "k" does not appear in the expansion of either translation, "km" is a symbol as it is a substitution rather than a contraction. It is a logogram rather than an abbreviation.
In the International System of Units (SI) manual the word "symbol" is used consistently to define the shorthand used to represent the various SI units of measure. The manual also defines the way in which units should be written, the principal rules being:
New York City has various neighborhoods named by syllabic abbreviation, such as Tribeca ( Tri angle be low Ca nal Street ) and SoHo (South of Houston Street). This usage has spread into other American cities, giving SoMa, San Francisco ( So uth of Ma rket ) and LoDo, Denver (Lower Downtown), among others.
In the modern Russian language words like Minoborony (from Ministerstvo oborony — Ministry of Defence) and Minobrnauki (from Ministerstvo obrazovaniya i nauki — Ministry of Education and Science) are still commonly used.
Syllabic abbreviations were also typical for the German language used in the German Democratic Republic, e.g. Stasi for Sta atssi cherheit ("state security", the secret police) or Vopo for Volkspolizist ("people's policeman"). Other uses are in company or product names such as Aldi, from the name of the founder, Theo Al brecht, and the German word Diskont (discount) or Haribo, from the name of the founder and the headquarters of the company, Hans Riegl Bonn.
Syllabic abbreviations are de rigueur in Spanish; examples abound in organization names such as Pemex for Pe tróleos Mex icanos ("Mexican Petroleums") or Fonafifo for Fondo Nacional de Financimiento Forestal (National Forestry Financing Fund).
East Asian languages whose writing systems use Chinese characters form abbreviations similarly by using key Chinese characters from a term or phrase. For example, in Japanese the term for the United Nations, kokusai rengō (国際連合) is often abbreviated to kokuren (国連). (Such abbreviations are called ryakugo (略語) in Japanese; see also Japanese abbreviated and contracted words). The syllabic abbreviation is frequently used for universities: for instance, Běidà (北大) for Běijīng Dàxué (北京大学, Peking University) and Tōdai (東大) for Tōkyō daigaku (東京大学, University of Tokyo). The English phrase "Gung ho" originated as a Chinese abbreviation.