The acronym is a special case of abbreviation. An acronym is a short word that is formed from the first letters of several words (WM ~ World Cup). Abbreviations formed from the initial syllables of words can also be referred to as acronyms (Schiri ~ referee), as suggested by the linguist Hadumod Bussmann.
The term can be derived from Ancient Greek (ἄκρος ~ ákros, ὄνομα ~ ónoma). So ákros can be translated with tip or edge and ónoma with name. The acronym is therefore the edge of a name, which is why the translation, with a little imagination, reveals to us what it is all about: namely the edge letters of a word that form an abbreviation. Let's look at an example.
The example sentence above contains three acronyms: namely LKW, Aral and UFO. This means that all three words were formed from the first letters of other terms. The letters of the truck stand for truck, with the UFO being an unidentified flying object, and the short aral standing for the aromatic and aliphatic chemical groups that made up the fuel.
In principle, acronyms appear everywhere in the language, which is why such abbreviations can be found in technical and colloquial language alike. Nevertheless, the language of the Internet in particular seems to be permeated with numerous acronyms, with the chat language or the language in forums and social networks emphasizing (examples: LMAO, IMHO, LOL, AAMOF, OOTD, CUL8R).
4 different acronym types (according to Hadumod Bußmann)
Of course, there are different ways in which such an acronym can arise and be formed. We would therefore like to offer an overview of the special forms below. Many existing acronyms can be assigned to several forms.
An apronym is an acronym that forms an existing word. The sequence of the individual first letters of the acronym thus form a meaningful term from the vocabulary.
Note: Such apronyms can be formed intentionally, as is probably the case with the ELSTER software, and accidentally, on the other hand, if there is an equivalent in a foreign language, as is the case with the DAISY system, for example.
An acronym is referred to as a backronym, which was only subsequently assigned a meaning in the form of an abbreviation. This means that existing words were subsequently given an additional meaning. Backronyms are usually more of a joke nature.
marriage (errare humanum est ~ to err is human); Puma (try Adidas); Fiat (fire in all parts); Team (Great! Someone else does it); Seat (see, get in, get out, die of laughter; Opel (without power, forever loser); Ford (fix or repair daily or found dead on the road).
Note: Backronyms often exist in films that have been dubbed after the fact. If an abbreviation is displayed that has a function, the different letters are translated into the respective language. Thus, the abbreviation is subsequently assigned a new meaning.
An acronym is said to be recursive if one of the words from which it is formed is the acronym itself. This means that it is an abbreviation that refers to itself in the explanation of its meaning. Very often we find recursive abbreviations in the technical environment.
PHP: PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor
PHP is a free scripting language that is primarily used to create websites. The first P of the acronym stands for PHP itself. The abbreviation is therefore recursive because it refers back to itself. PHP is also a backronym, as the acronym originally stood for Personal Home Page Tools.
GNU: GNU’s Not Unix
GNU is a free operating system similar to the Unix system. However, the two programs are not identical, as indicated by the acronym itself. The operating system logo is a wildebeest, an African antelope species. Thus, GNU is an apronym because it forms a word in its own right.
The syllable abbreviation, also syllable word, is a word that is formed from the initial syllables of one or more words. A new word is formed by combining the different syllables.
Referee (referee), Juso (young socialist) , Trafo (transformer), Kita (day care center)
Note: A mixed form of acronym and syllable abbreviation is referred to as a mixed abbreviation. This means that the initial letters and also the syllables are used in the formation of the word. As an example, the Azubi (trainee) can be cited, which is made up of the first letter of the word and then individual syllables. So the forms are mixed.
The most important thing about the acronym at a glance