We explain what abbreviations are, how they are read, their origin, history and various examples. In addition, differences with the acronyms.
What are the abbreviations?
Abbreviations are called the shortening or abbreviation of a word or an expression, due to orthographic conventions within the written language, reducing it to a letter or a set of letters, and thus facilitating its annotation. They generally consist of the initial capital letter of the word, accompanied or not by other lowercase letters, and ending in a period.
Abbreviations have their traditional place in the language, and many of them were inherited from now dead languages (such as Latin and Greek), but others come from technical and scientific language, or from specific uses that are becoming the norm.
Thus, based on their origin, abbreviations are usually classified as:
Otherwise, the abbreviations:
Abbreviations should never be confused with acronyms, symbols or acronyms.
Origin of abbreviations
Many of the abbreviations we use today come from ancient Latin or ancient Greek. In fact, some are literally Latin expressions that logically no longer exist in Spanish, but survive as abbreviations, as is the case with et al. , which comes from the Latin word et alii, “and others”.
In these languages, the abbreviations were so used for the writing of official documents, for example, in the Roman Empire, that the Emperor Justinian was forced to ban them from official documents, because they made it almost impossible to understand the written message.
This tendency was inherited to the different Romance languages, and in documents written in medieval Spanish it is common to find numerous abbreviations, such as VM for "Your Majesty", for example. Again, that trend was so common and abusive that the French King Philip the Fair banned them from royal documentation during his reign in 1304.
Examples of abbreviations
Here is a list of the most common abbreviations in Spanish:
|et al.||“and others”, “and others”|
|op. cit.||"work cited"|
|N. del T.||"translator's note"|
|N. of E.||"editor's note"|
|challenge accepted. vv. / CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. VV.||"various authors"|
|d. C.||"after Christ"|
|a. m.||"before noon"|
|p. m.||"after the midday"|
|av., avd., avda.||"Avenue"|
|p. d.||“post data”|
|cta. cte., c / c||"current account"|
|Cía., Comp., Cía||"company"|
|C. P.||"Postal Code"|
|D. y D.a||"Don" and "Dona"|
|Mr.||"Mr. Mrs. Miss"|
|etc.||"and so on"|
|ib., íbid.||"In the same place"|
|p., p., p.||"page"|
|s. f., s/f||"without date"|
|S. S.||"Your Holiness"|
Abbreviations and acronyms
We should not confuse abbreviations, which are conventionally or historically abbreviated words or expressions, with acronyms, which are abbreviated forms of citing the name of an entity or organization. Although they obey the same principle (shorten certain terms in written discourse) and are not usually read in an abbreviated way, but in full, acronyms have different writing conventions.
To begin with, acronyms do not usually have a period (that is, USSR and not USSR), and are constructed by choosing the initial letter of each of the main terms of the abbreviated name (in this case: Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, note that the "of" is not taken into account because it is a secondary term), and building with them a single expression.