Linguistic Inequities

Why is it that we still have no word for strings of initials (HTML, NAACP, BFE, FCC) yet we have a term for the reversal of logical phrases? Ladies and gentleman of the jury, I present to you hysteron proteron, an overly lengthy phrase describing the inversion of a logical statement or clause. For example, saying “bred and born” instead of “born and bred.” This particular term was brought to my attention by my drummer and fellow language nerd, Steve Chapman.

Ah, but you say “acronym” is the term for things like AFL-CIO, DEA, and AARP, but it’s not. An acronym only qualifies as such if the initials create a word like “radar” (RAdio Detection And Ranging) or maybe even “SCSI” (pronounced “scuzzy”). Given that the Internet has created an unprecendented glut of what I like to call “initializations” (ASP, IIS, AOL), we really should get ourselves a word for this phenomenon. I vote for “initialization” if only because it has only slightly fewer[1] letters than “hysteron proteron.”

1.) Let it be known, mom, that I said “fewer” and not “less.”

4 thoughts on “Linguistic Inequities”

  1. Acronyms and your “initializations” are both types of abbreviation, and I’ve always just called USB, DDR, CIA, et al. abbreviations. What you’ve really suggested is a new nomenclature or ontology (in the sense it’s used in computer science) of abbreviations. There are abbreviations that you pronounce, and there are ones that aren’t readily pronounced. The former are acronyms, and the latter are initializations.

    Unfortunately, your mention of SCSI[1] makes a hash of your new theory. That’s what you get for thinking.

    1) Some people actually wanted to pronounce this “sexy.” Foolish mortals.

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