Linguistic Terms



Abbreviations are defined as; “A spelling convention that allows to reduce the size of words and make a text shorter”. They function as a contraction of the word or set of words in question, usually formed by the first and last letters, although it may vary depending on the case.

An abbreviation is a spelling social form or convention that shortens a word in order to simplify a certain term, expression or set of terms. To create an abbreviation, the initial letter (which is written in uppercase or lowercase) is used, followed by some letters that make up the word or concept.

Any word can be abbreviated but there is a distinction between personal abbreviations and conventional abbreviations:

  • The personal abbreviations are those that each person uses in their own language and to communicate informally with others.
  • The conventional abbreviations are endorsed and recognized by speakers of a whole community. For these reasons it can be said that every conventional abbreviation was initially a personal abbreviation but not every personal abbreviation becomes a convention. In addition, conventional abbreviations are regulated by the variables of place and time, so the abbreviations may fall into disuse or last for several decades.

The term abbreviation has its origin in the Latin language, and it is a spelling-type procedure that involves the reduction of a word through the suppression of final or central letters and, usually, ends with a period . Some examples are: Atte. (for “attentively” ), Mr. (for “sir” ), Dr. (for “doctor” ).

Although the above abbreviations (and many others) have widespread use and have acquired a conventional way, any person who can write may create an abbreviation for personal use. When a writer does this, he usually includes a glossary at the beginning or end of his work where he explains the particular abbreviations he has used.

There are two ways to abbreviate a term: by truncation or by contraction . The abbreviation for truncation consists in eliminating the final part of the word, as can be seen by observing Av. (By “avenue” ), or etc. (for “etcetera” ). In the Spanish language, this type of abbreviation never ends in a vowel, unlike other languages, such as English (see Ave. , which corresponds to the term “avenue” , which means avenue ).

This leads us to deal with a very common mistake made by students of foreign languages, or those people who believe they know how to speak a language simply because it presents certain superficial similarities with theirs: transferring the spelling rules from their native language to the foreign language. Both punctuation and word division, stress, grammar and of course the abbreviations can vary substantially from one language to another, and it is essential to take this into account to learn correctly.

Most commonly, regardless of the construction of the abbreviation itself, it is assumed that they all have an end point. If we take as an example “doctor”, one of the terms that are most commonly written abbreviated in several languages , it is very likely that many people correctly believe the abbreviation Dr. in any Romance language, among which are Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and French, among many others. In the same way, given that the Anglo-Saxon term “doctor” is widely known and has the same spelling as its corresponding Castilian, it is surely also considered natural to be abbreviated as in Spanish.

Using this last case in particular, if we refer to the English rules to construct the abbreviations, we will notice that if your last letter corresponds to the last of the original term, then you should not end with a period. This shows that between the Castilian “Dr.” and the English “Dr” there is a difference , however small, and should not be used interchangeably.

The abbreviation by contraction , on the other hand, involves the elimination of the central letters of the word, leaving only the most representative ; some of the most used are Avda. (for “avenue” ) and no. (by “number” ).

There are abbreviations that can end in flown letters, such as # (by “number” ). On the other hand, there are abbreviations in which the end point of a word is replaced by a slash : c / c (for “checking account” ) or c / u (for “each” ). There are even abbreviations that can be written in parentheses: (a) (by “alias” ).

It should be noted that, according to the spelling rule, abbreviations should maintain the tilde of the source word, as is the case with p. (for “page” ).

The acronym and acronym are other types of abbreviations and are often confused with each other and with the abbreviations, although in essence they are clearly different: the acronym consists of taking the initial letter of each word that forms an expression of complex type, as is the case of GDP (Gross Domestic Product); The acronym , on the other hand, uses more letters of the terms that it combines, so that its sound is equivalent to that of a word, as is the case with MERCOSUR (Southern Common Market)

What is the difference between abbreviations and acronyms?

Acronyms is a short form of a phrase which is constructed by taking the first letters of that phrase. Acronyms are a type of abbreviation. For example, aka ( also known as ) is used to present the nicknames of television characters or sports figures.



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