Dot Wordsworth

Mind your language | 19 March 2011

I asked Veronica how to pronounce LOL. She is of an age to know, for this abbreviation is ubiquitous in emails and texts. ‘El-o-el,’ she said. So, orally it isn’t much of an abbreviation, though it performs better than www, which replaces three syllables, world wide web, with nine syllables. Next week LOL joins other initialisms in the big fat Oxford English Dictionary. An initialism is more specific than an abbreviation. Abbreviations include pleasantly obsolescent terms like affly for affectionately. If you read affly aloud, you would say ‘affectionately’, unless you were using oral inverted commas, intending to convey its air of archaism. If you read out a true acronym like Nato, you would say ‘Nato’.

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