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Various Types and Ways of Forming Words Essay Sample

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The available linguistic literature on the subject cites various types and ways of forming words. Earlier books, articles and monographs on word-formation and vocabulary growth in general both in Russian language and in foreign languages, in the English language in particular, used to mention morphological, syntactic and lexico-semantic types of word-formation. At present the classifications of the types of word-formation do not, as a rule, include lexico-semantic word-building. Of interest is the classification of word-formation means based on the number of motivating bases which many scholars follow. A distinction is made between two large classes of word-building means: To Class I belong the means of building words having one motivating base. To give an English example, the noun catcher composed of the base catch- and the suffix –er, through the combination of which it is morphologically and semantically motivated. Class II includes the means of building words containing more than one motivating base. Needless to say, they are all based on compounding.

Most linguists in special chapters and manuals devoted to English word-formation consider as the chief processes of English word-formation affixation, conversion and compounding. Apart from these a number of minor ways of forming words such as back-formation, sound interchange, distinctive stress, sound imitation, blending, clipping and acronymy are traditionally referred to Word-Formation. Another classification of the types of word-formation worked out by H. Marchand is also of interest. Proceeding from the distinction between full linguistic signs and pseudo signs he considers two major groups: 1) words formed as grammatical syntagmas, combinations of full linguistic signs which are characterized by morphological motivation such as do-er, un-do, rain-bow; and 2) words which are not grammatical syntagmas, which are not made up of full linguistic signs. To the first group belong Compounding, Suffixation, Prefixation, Derivation by Zero Morpheme and Back-Derivation, to the second – Expressive, Symbolism, Blending, Clipping, Rime and Ablaut Gemination, Word-Manufacturing. It is characteristic of both groups that a new coining is based on a synchronic relationship between morphemes.

Acronyms

An acronym is an abbreviation formed from the initial components in a phrase or a word. These components may be individual letters (as in CEO) or parts of words (as in Benelux and Ameslan). There is no universal agreement on the precise definition of various names for such abbreviations nor on written usage . In English and most other languages, such abbreviations historically had limited use, but they became much more common in the 20th century. Acronyms are a type of word formation process, and they are viewed as a subtype of blending.

Nomenclature

The term acronym is the name for a word from the first letters of each word in a series of words (such as sonar, created from soundnavigation and ranging).Attestations for “Akronym” in German are known from 1921, and for “acronym” in English from 1940.While the word abbreviation refers to any shortened form of a word or a phrase, some have used initialism or alphabetism to refer to an abbreviation formed simply from, and used simply as, a string of initials. Although the term acronym is widely used to describe any abbreviation formed from initial letters, some dictionaries define acronym to mean “a word” in its original sense, while some others include additional senses attributing to acronym the same meaning as that of initialism. The distinction, when made, hinges on whether the abbreviation is pronounced as a word, or as a string of letters. In such cases, examples found in dictionaries include NATO (/‘neɪtoʊ/), scuba (‘sku:bə), and radar (/‘reɪdɑr/) for acronyms, and FBI (/ɛ,f,bi:’aɪ/) and HTML (/,eɪtʃ,ti,ɛm’ɛl/) for initialism.

There is no agreement on what to call abbreviations whose pronunciation involves the combination of letter names and words, such as JPEG (/‘dʒeɪpɛɡ/) and MS-DOS (/,ɛmɛs’dɒs/). There is also some disagreement as to what to call abbreviations that some speakers pronounce as letters and others pronounce as a word. For example, the terms URL and IRA can be pronounced as individual letters: /,ju:,ɑr’ɛl/ and /,aɪ,ɑr’eɪ/, respectively; or as a single word: /’ɜrl/ and /’aɪərə/, respectively. Such constructions, however—regardless of how they are pronounced—if formed from initials, may be identified as initialisms without controversy. The spelled-out form of an acronym or initialism (that is, what it stands for) is called its expansion.

Comparing a few examples of each type

Pronounced as a word, containing only initial letters
• AIDS: acquired immune deficiency syndrome
• NATO: North Atlantic Treaty Organization
• Scuba: self-contained underwater breathing apparatus
• Laser: Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation
• Pronounced as a word, containing non-initial letters
• Amphetamine: alpha-methyl-phenethylamine
• Gestapo: Geheime Staatspolizei (secret state police)
• Interpol: International Criminal Police Organization
• Nabisco: National Biscuit Company
Pronounced as a word, containing a mixture of initial and non-initial letters
• Necco: New England Confectionery Company
• Radar: radio detection and ranging
Pronounced as a word or spelled out, depending on speaker or context
• FAQ: ([fæk] or ef-a-cue) frequently asked question
• IRA: When used for Individual Retirement Account, can be pronounced as letters (i-ar-a) or as a word [‘aɪrə].
• SAT(s): ([sæt] or ess-a-tee) (previously) Scholastic Achievement (or Aptitude) Test(s)(US) or Standard Assessment Test(s) (UK), now claimed not to stand for anything.
• SQL: ([si:kwəl] or ess-cue-el) Structured Query Language. Pronounced as a combination of spelling out and a word

• CD-ROM: (cee-dee-[rɒm]) Compact Disc read-only memory • IUPAC: (i-u-[pæk]) International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry
• JPEG: (jay-[pɛɡ]) Joint Photographic Experts Group • SFMOMA: (ess-ef-[moʊmə]) San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Spelled out only

• BBC: British Broadcasting Corporation
• OEM: Original Equipment Manufacturer
• USA: The United States of America
Spelled out, but with a shortcut
• AAA:
• (triple A) American Automobile Association; abdominal aortic aneurysm; anti-aircraft artillery; Asistencia Asesoría y Administración
• (three As) Amateur Athletic Association
• IEEE: (I triple E) Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers • NAACP: (N double A C P) National Association for the Advancement of Colored People • NCAA: (N C double A or N C two A or N C A A) National Collegiate Athletic Association Shortcut incorporated into name

• 3M: (three M) originally Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company • E3: (E three) Electronic Entertainment Exposition
• W3C: (W three C) World Wide Web Consortium
• C4ISTAR: (C four I star) Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance Multi-layered acronyms
• NAC Breda: (Dutch football club) NOAD ADVENDO Combinatie (“NOAD ADVENDO Combination”), formed by the 1912 merger of two clubs, NOAD (Nooit Opgeven Altijd Doorgaan “Never give up, always persevere”) and ADVENDO (Aangenaam Door Vermaak En Nuttig Door Ontspanning “Pleasant by entertainment and useful by relaxation”) from Breda • GAIM: GTK+ AOL Instant Messenger

• GIMP: GNU Image Manipulation Program
• VHDL: VHSIC hardware description language, where VHSIC stands for very-high-speed integrated circuit. Recursive acronyms, in which the abbreviation refers to itself • GNU: GNU’s not Unix!

• WINE: WINE Is Not an Emulator (originally, WINdows Emulator) • PHP: PHP hypertext pre-processor (formerly personal home page) These may go through multiple layers before the self-reference is found: • HURD: HIRD of Unix-replacing daemons, where “HIRD” stands for “HURD of interfaces representing depth” Pseudo-acronyms, which consist of a sequence of characters that, when pronounced as intended, invoke other, longer words with less typing • CQ: cee-cue for “seek you”, a code used by radio operators • IOU: i-o-u for “I owe you” (a true acronym would be IOY) • K9: kay-nine for “canine”, used to designate police units utilizing dogs • Q8: cue-eight for “Kuwait”

Acronyms whose last abbreviated word is often redundantly included anyway • ATM machine: Automated Teller Machine machine
• HIV virus: Human Immunodeficiency Virus virus
• PIN number: Personal Identification Number number • LCD display: Liquid Crystal Display display

Historical and current use

Acronymy, like retronymy, is a linguistic process that has existed throughout history but for which there was little to no naming, conscious attention, or systematic analysis until relatively recent times. Like retronymy, it became much more common in the 20th century than it had formerly been. Ancient examples of acronymy (regardless of whether there was metalanguage at the time to describe it) include the following: Acronyms were used in Rome before the Christian era. For example, the official name for the Roman Empire, and the Republic before it, was abbreviated as SPQR (Senatus Populusque Romanus). Inscriptions dating from antiquity, both on stone and on coins, use a lot of abbreviations and acronyms to save room and work. For example, Roman first names, of which there was only a small set, were almost always abbreviated. Common terms were abbreviated too, such as writing just “F” for “filius”, meaning “son of”, a very common part of memorial inscriptions mentioning people.

Grammatical markers were abbreviated or left out entirely if they could be inferred from the rest of the text. So called Nomina Sacra were used in many Greek biblical manuscripts. The common words “God” (Θεός), “Jesus” (Ιησούς), “Christ” (Χριστός), and some others, would be abbreviated by their first and last letters, marked with an overline. This was just one of many kinds of conventional scribal abbreviation, used to reduce the time-consuming workload of the scribe and save on valuable writing materials. The same convention is still commonly used in the inscriptions on religious icons and the stamps used to mark the eucharistic bread in eastern churches. The early Christians in Rome, most of whom were Greek rather than Latin speakers, used the image of a fish as a symbol for Jesusin part because of an acronym—fish in Greek is ΙΧΘΥΣ (ichthys), which was said to stand for Ἰησοῦς Χριστός Θεοῦ Υἱός Σωτήρ(Iesous CHristos THeou (h) Uios Soter: Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior).

Evidence of this interpretation dates from the 2nd and 3rd centuries and is preserved in the catacombs of Rome. And for centuries, the Church has used the inscription INRI over the crucifix, which stands for the Latin Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum (“Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews”). The Hebrew language has a long history of formation of acronyms pronounced as words, stretching back many centuries. The Hebrew Bible (“Old Testament”) is known as “Tanakh”, an acronym composed from the Hebrew initial letters of its three major sections: Torah (five books of Moses), Nevi’im (prophets), and K’tuvim (writings). Many rabbinical figures from the Middle Ages onward are referred to in rabbinical literature by their pronounced acronyms, such as Rambam (aka Maimonides, from the initial letters of his full Hebrew name (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon) and Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzkhaki). During the mid to late 19th century, an acronym-disseminating trend spread through the American and European business communities: abbreviating corporation names in places where space was limited for writing — such as on the sides of railroad cars(e.g., Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad → RF&P); on the sides of barrels and crates; and on ticke tape and in the small-print newspaper stock listings that got their data from it (e.g., American Telephone and Telegraph Company → AT&T).

Some well-known commercial examples dating from the 1890s through 1920s include Nabisco (National Biscuit Company),Esso (from S.O., from Standard Oil), and Sunoco (Sun Oil Company). Another driver for the adoption of acronyms was modern warfare with its many highly technical terms. While there is no recorded use of military acronyms yet in documents dating from the American Civil War (acronyms such as ANV for “Army of Northern Virginia” post-date the war itself), they had become somewhat common in World War I and were very much a part even of the vernacular language of the soldiers during World War II. The widespread, frequent use of acronyms across the whole range of registers is a relatively new linguistic phenomenon in most languages, becoming increasingly evident since the mid-20th century. As literacy rates rose, and as advances in science and technology brought with them a constant stream of new (and sometimes more complex) terms and concepts, the practice of abbreviating terms became increasingly convenient. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) records the first printed use of the wordinitialism as occurring in 1899, but it did not come into general use until 1965, well after acronym had become common.

By 1943, the term acronym had been used in English to recognize abbreviations (and contractions of phrases) that were pronounced as words. (It was formed from the Greek words ἄκρος, akros, “topmost, extreme” and ὄνομα, onoma, “name.”) For example, the army offense of being absent without official leave was abbreviated to “A.W.O.L.” in reports, but when pronounced as a word (‘awol’), it became an acronym. While initial letters are commonly used to form an acronym, the original definition was a word made from the initial letters or syllables of other words, for example UNIVAC from UNIVersal Automatic Computer. In English, acronyms pronounced as words may be a 20th-century phenomenon. Linguist David Wilton in Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends claims that “forming words from acronyms is a distinctly twentieth- (and now twenty-first-) century phenomenon. There is only one known pre-twentieth-century [English] word with an acronymic origin and it was in vogue for only a short time in 1886. The word is colinderies or colinda, an acronym for the Colonial and Indian Exposition held in London in that year.

Early examples in English

• The use of Latin and Neo-Latin terms in vernaculars has been pan-European and predates modern English. Some examples of acronyms in this class are: • A.M. (from Latin ante meridiem, “before noon”) and P.M. (from Latin post meridiem, “after noon”) • A.D. (from Latin Anno Domini, “in the year of our Lord”) (whose complement in English, B.C. [Before Christ], is English-sourced) • O.K., a term of disputed origin, dating back at least to the early 19th century, now used around the world • The etymology of the word alphabet itself comes to Middle English from the Late Latin Alphabetum, which in turn derives from the Ancient Greek Alphabetos, from alpha and beta, the first two letters of the Greek alphabet. In colloquial terms, learning the alphabet is called learning one’s ABCs. Since the letter names stand for themselves in these examples rather than being the initials of other words, these are not really acronyms.

Current use

Acronyms are used most often to abbreviate names of organizations and long or frequently referenced terms. The armed forces and government agencies frequently employ acronyms; some well-known examples from the United States are among the “alphabet agencies” (also jokingly referred to as “alphabet soup”) created by Franklin D. Roosevelt under the New Deal. Business and industry also are prolific coiners of acronyms. The rapid advance of science and technology in recent centuries seems to be an underlying force driving the usage, as new inventions and concepts with multiword names create a demand for shorter, more manageable names. One representative example, from the U.S. Navy, is COMCRUDESPAC, which stands for commander, cruisers destroyers Pacific; it’s also seen as “ComCruDesPac”. “YABA-compatible” (where YABA stands for “yet another bloody acronym”) is used to mean that a term’s acronym can be pronounced but is not an offensive word (e.g., “When choosing a new name, be sure it is “YABA-compatible”).

The use of acronyms has been further popularized with the emergence of Short Message Systems (SMS). To fit messages into the 160-character limit of SMS, acronyms such as “GF” (girl friend), “LOL” (laughing out loud), and “DL” (download or down low) have been popularized into the mainstream. Although prescriptivist disdain for such neologism is fashionable, and can be useful when the goal is protecting message receivers from crypticness, it is scientifically groundless when couched as preserving the “purity” or “legitimacy” of language; this neologism is merely the latest instance of a perennial linguistic principle—the same one that in the 19th century prompted the aforementioned abbreviation of corporation names in places where space for writing was limited (e.g., ticker tape, newspaper column inches).

Aids to learning the expansion without leaving a document

The expansion is typically given at the first occurrence of the acronym within a given text, for the benefit of those readers who do not know what it stands for. The capitalization of the original term is independent of it being acronymized, being lowercase for a term such as frequently asked questions (FAQ) but uppercase for a proper name such as the United Nations (UN). In addition to expansion at first use, some publications also have a key listing all acronyms used therein and what their expansions are. This is a convenience to readers for two reasons. The first is that if they are not reading the entire publication sequentially (which is a common mode of reading), then they may encounter an acronym without having seen its expansion. Having a key at the start or end of the publication obviates skimming over the text searching for an earlier use to find the expansion. (This is especially important in the print medium, where no search utility is available.)

The second reason for the key feature is its pedagogical value in educational works such as textbooks. It gives students a way to review the meanings of the acronyms introduced in a chapter after they have done the line-by-line reading, and also a way to quiz themselves on the meanings (by covering up the expansion column and recalling the expansions from memory, then checking their answers by uncovering.) In addition, this feature enables readers possessing knowledge of the abbreviations to not have to encounter expansions (redundant to such readers). Expansion at first use and the abbreviation-key feature are aids to the reader that originated in the print era, and they are equally useful in print and online. In addition, the online medium offers yet more aids, such as tooltips, hyperlinks, and rapid search via search engine technology.

Jargon

Acronyms often occur in jargon. An acronym may have different meanings in different areas of industry, writing, and scholarship. The general reason for this is convenience and succinctness for specialists, although it has led some to obfuscate the meaning either intentionally, to deter those without such domain-specific knowledge, or unintentionally, by creating an acronym that already existed. The medical literature has been struggling to control the proliferation of acronyms as their use has evolved from aiding communication to hindering it. This has become such a problem that it is even evaluated at the level of medical academies such as the American Academy of Dermatology.

As mnemonics

Acronyms are often taught as mnemonic devices, for example in physics the colors of the visible spectrum are ROY G. BIV (red-orange-yellow-green-blue-indigo-violet). They are also used as mental checklists, for example in aviation: GUMPS, which is Gas-Undercarriage-Mixture-Propeller-Seatbelts. Other examples of mnemonic acronyms include CAN SLIM, and PAVPANIC.

Acronyms as legendary etymology

It is not uncommon for acronyms to be cited in a kind of false etymology, called a folk etymology, for a word. Such etymologies persist in popular culture but have no factual basis in historical linguistics, and are examples of language-related urban legends. For example,cop is commonly cited as being derived, it is presumed, from “constable on patrol,”posh from “port out, starboard home”, and golf from “gentlemen only, ladies forbidden”. Taboo words in particular commonly have such false etymologies: shit from “ship/store high in transit” or “special high-intensity training” and fuck from “for unlawful carnal knowledge”, or “fornication under consent/command of the king”.

Changes to the expanded meaning

Pseudo-acronyms

In some cases, an acronym has been redefined as a non-acronymous name—creating a pseudo-acronym. The term “orphan initialism” has also been used for names that began as an acronym but lost this status. Such an apparent acronym or other abbreviation, that does not stand for anything cannot be expanded to some meaning. For example, the letters of the SAT (pronounced as letters) US college entrance test no longer officially stand for anything. This is common with companies that want to retain brand recognition while moving away from an outdated image: American Telephone and Telegraph became AT&T, Kentucky Fried Chicken became KFC to de-emphasize the role of frying in the preparation of its signature dishes, British Petroleum became BP and Silicon Graphics, Incorporated became SGI. DVD now has no official meaning. Pseudo-acronyms may have advantages in international markets: for example, some national affiliates of International Business Machines are legally incorporated as “IBM” (or, for example, “IBM Canada”) to avoid translating the full name into local languages. Likewise, “UBS” is the name of the merged Union Bank of Switzerland and Swiss Bank Corporation, and “HSBC” has replaced “The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.”

Recursive acronyms and RAS syndrome

Rebranding can lead to redundant-acronym syndrome, as when Trustee Savings Bank became TSB Bank, or when Railway Express Agency became REA Express. A few high-tech companies have taken the redundant acronym to the extreme: for example, ISM Information Systems Management Corp. and SHL Systemhouse Ltd. An example in entertainment is the television shows CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Navy: NCIS, where the redundancy was likely designed to educate new viewers as to what the initials stood for. The same stood for when the Royal Bank of Canada’s Canadian operations rebranded to RBC Royal Bank, or when Bank of Montreal rebranded their retail banking subsidiary BMO Bank of Montreal.

Another common example is RAM memory, which is redundant because RAM (random-access memory) includes the initial of the wordmemory. PIN stands for personal identification number, obviating the second word in PIN number. Other examples include ATM machine (automated teller machine machine), EAB bank (European American Bank bank), DC Comics (Detective Comics Comics),HIV virus (human immunodeficiency virus virus), Microsoft’s NT Technology (New Technology Technology) and the formerly redundant AT test (Scholastic Achievement/Aptitude/Assessment Test test, now simply SAT Reasoning Test). TNN (The Nashville/National Network) also renamed itself The New TNN for a brief interlude.

Simple redefining

Sometimes, the initials continue to stand for an expanded meaning, but the original meaning is simply replaced. Some examples: • DVD was originally an acronym of the unofficial term digital video disk, but is now stated by the DVD Forum as standing for Digital Versatile Disc. • GAO changed the full form of its name from General Accounting Office to Government Accountability Office. • The OCLC changed the full form of its name from Ohio College Library Center to Online Computer Library Center. • RAID used to mean Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks, but is now commonly interpreted as Redundant Array of Independent Disks. • WWF originally stood for World Wildlife Fund, but now stands for Worldwide Fund for Nature (although the former name is still used in the US).

Backronyms

A backronym (or bacronym) is a phrase that is constructed “after the fact” from a previously existing word. For example, the novelist and critic Anthony Burgess once proposed that the word “book” ought to stand for “Box Of rganized Knowledge.” A classic real-world example of this in action is the name of the predecessor to the Apple Macintosh, The Apple Lisa, which was said to refer to “Local Integrated Software Architecture”, but Steve Jobs’ daughter, born 1978, was named Lisa.

Contrived acronyms

Acronyms are sometimes contrived, that is, deliberately designed to be especially apt for the thing being named (by having a dual meaning or by borrowing the positive connotations of an existing word). Some examples of contrived acronyms are USA PATRIOT, CAN SPAM, CAPTCHA and ACT UP. The clothing company French Connection began referring to itself as fcuk, standing for “French Connection United Kingdom.” The company then created t-shirts and several advertising campaigns that exploit the acronym’s similarity to the taboo word “fuck”. See the list of fictional espionage organizations for more examples of contrived acronyms. The US Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is known for developing contrived acronyms to name projects, including RESURRECT, NIRVANA, and DUDE. In July 2010, Wired Magazine reported that DARPA announced programs to “..transform biology from a descriptive to a predictive field of science” named BATMAN and ROBIN for Biochronicity and Temporal Mechanisms Arising in Nature and Robustness of Biologically-Inspired Networks, a reference to the Batman and Robin Comic-book superheroes.

Some acronyms are chosen deliberately to avoid a name considered undesirable: For example, Verliebt in Berlin (ViB), a German telenovela, was first intended to be Alles nur aus Liebe (All for Love), but was changed to avoid the resultant acronym ANAL. Likewise, the Computer Literacy and Internet Technology qualification is known as CLaIT, rather than CLIT. In Canada, the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance (Party) was quickly renamed to the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance when its opponents pointed out that its initials spelled CCRAP (pronounced “see crap”). (The satirical magazine Frank had proposed alternatives to CCRAP, namely SSHIT and NSDAP.)

Two Irish Institutes of Technology (Galway and Tralee) chose different acronyms from other institutes when they were upgraded from Regional Technical colleges. Tralee RTC became the Institute of Technology Tralee (ITT), as opposed to Tralee Institute of Technology (TIT). Galway RTC became Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), as opposed to Galway Institute of Technology (GIT). Team in Training is known as TNT and not TIT. Technological Institute of Textile & Sciences is still known as TITS. The war on terror was originally referred to in early Bush speeches as “The War Against Terror” (TWAT), but this was swiftly changed. Similarly, what became “Operation Iraqi Freedom” was originally known as “Operation Iraqi Liberation” (OIL). Contrived acronyms differ from backronyms in that they were originally conceived with the artificial expanded meaning, whereas backronyms are later-invented expansions.

Macronyms/nested acronyms

A macronym, or nested acronym, is an acronym in which one or more letters stand for acronyms themselves.A special type of macronym has letters that refer back to itself when expanded. These are called recursive acronyms. One of the earliest examples appears in The Hacker’s Dictionary as MUNG, which stands for “MUNG Until No Good” Some examples of recursive acronyms are:

• GNU stands for “GNU’s Not Unix”
• LAME stands for “LAME Ain’t an MP3 Encoder”
• PHP stands for “PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor”
• WINE stands for “WINE Is Not an Emulator”
• HURD stands for “HIRD of Unix-replacing daemons”, where HIRD itself stands for “HURD of interfaces representing depth” (a “mutually recursive” acronym) Non-recursive macronyms:
• XHR stands for XML HTTP Request, in which XML is eXtensible Markup Language, and HTTP stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol. • POWER stands for “Performance Optimization With Enhanced RISC”, in which (RISC stands for Reduced Instruction Set Computing) • VHDL stands for “VHSIC Hardware Description Language”, in which (VHSIC stands for Very High Speed Integrated Circuit.) (This example is not a recursive acronym) • XSD stands for “XML Schema Definition”, in which (XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language.)

• SECS stands for “SEMI equipment communication standard”, in which SEMI stands for “Semiconductor equipment manufacturing industries”. • AIM stands for “AOL Instant Messenger”, in which AOL stands for America Online. Some non-recursive macronyms can be multiply nested—the second order acronym points to another one further down a hierarchy. In an informal competition run by the magazine New Scientist, a fully documented specimen was discovered that may be the most deeply nested of all: RARS is the “Regional ATOVS Retransmission Service”, ATOVS is Advanced TOVS, TOVS is TIROS operational vertical sounder and TIROS is Television infrared observational satellite.

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