Monday 5 April 2010

The Acronyms and Initialisms Database System

What the world needs is a new quango (quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation) to deal with acronyms and initialisms. The other day the front page of the BBC news website looked like this (note the bottom left and top right):

The other one, in case you were wondering, is Northern Ireland. The problem of ambiguous initialisms has been the central scandal of the news over the last few weeks. Proportional Representation has fought with Public Relations on the front page. The International Panel on Climate Change has been in as much trouble as the Independent Police Complaints Committee ever since PC Delroy Smellie hit a member of the PC brigade at a demo (something that I saw on youtube on my PC).

The web has the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which stops two people both registering the same domain name and a similar leap forward in initialisms is long over due. I suggest, indeed I demand, that it should be called the Acronyms and Initialisms Database System.

I shall write to my Military Police about it.

Incidentally, in a preposterously technical sense an acronym is something that's pronounced as as single word like Scuba (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) while an initialism is one where the individual letters are pronounced as in DVD (Digital Versatile Disc). Or maybe not. It depends which dictionary you read.


  1. Hear, hear.

    Chris Grayling belongs to an organisation named Tools Working Against Tolerance in Society. There is some confusion, though, as to whether the acronym has already been taken. Your database would resolve this issue.

    P.S. An item of food called a 'slimming biscuit' already has the database's acronym, so you may need to rethink.

  2. If you must read dictionaries, what do you expect?

  3. That's what dictionaries are for. So you can just make up your own definition and be confident that, if no one else was sure, then yours is as good as anyone else's.

  4. The Antipodean21 June 2010 at 07:51

    "There web?" she said, raising an eyebrow.

    That works.