Initials and acronyms are linguistic signs formed from the graphic abbreviation of several words. Although they are often confused, it should be noted that they are not the same: the acronyms are abbreviations formed from the initial letters of a certain expression, as is the case with ONG (non-governmental organization) or ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line 'subscriber line'). asymmetric digital'). Acronyms, on the other hand, are a type of acronym that can be read or pronounced as if it were a word and are integrated into the language as nouns, as is the case with UN (United Nations Organization), ERE (Employment Regulation File) or ICT (information technology). Thus, NATO is an acronym and acronym and BCE is an acronym, but not an acronym because it is read by spelling.
Now, it must also be specified that acronyms can also be those words that are formed by joining two or more words, generally with the beginning of one and the end of the other. Some acronyms of this type would be the neologism feminazi (from femi(nist) + Nazi), flexitarian (from flexible (ble) + (vege) tarian) or Muppet (from tele (vision) + (doll)). It is also common for acronyms to be constructed with more than one letter of each word that makes up the expression. Or put another way: acronyms, unlike acronyms, can be formed not only with the initial letter of each word, but with two or more. Some examples would be Fundéu —acronym for Fundacion (dación) del E (spanish) U (rgente)—, Renfe — Re (d) N (acional) de F (errocarriles) E (spañoles)— or MERCOSUR,from the Co (mun) Market of the South.
As a general rule, acronyms must be written in capital letters to indicate that it is a word formed by the initial letter of two or more words —as in ADN, CD or DVD— and to differentiate it from those common nouns to which, in times, replace For example, this serves to differentiate the AVE —acronym for Spanish High Speed— and the bird 'animal with a beak and feathers' and USO —from Unión Sindical Obrera— and use 'action to use'—. In addition, we must also differentiate between the three types of acronyms that we can find in Spanish, namely:
However, it is increasingly common to find a mixed use of uppercase and lowercase letters in acronyms. This is what happens, for example, in acronyms such as AEMet —for the State Meteorological Agency—, PCEr, —for the reconstituted Communist Party of Spain— or UniCo, for the Union of Correctors. What is the explanation for this phenomenon? in spelling point out the following: «Today it is becoming more and more common to capitalize only the initial of the significant components of the developed expression and keep non-initial letters or grammatical connectors in lowercase» (2010, § 4.3.1, p. 511). Now, it must be taken into account that the combination of uppercase and lowercase letters within a word is only allowed in the writing of initials and acronyms; In the general lexicon, the union of an uppercase and lowercase letter inside a word is not allowed —it is in the initial position, obviously—.
Some of these acronyms are very productive when it comes to generating new words. In fact, abbreviations and acronyms are often lexicalized, that is, they become part of our lexical wealth. This occurs when the speaker is not aware that the word in question is originally an acronym or acronym. Let's give some examples: the word tac 'a set of images of computerized sections of an organ' has been lexicalized and we write it as a word for all purposes —that is, it is not necessary to highlight it with capital letters—. However, it is an acronym formed from computerized axial tomography. The same goes for laser words , an acronym for the wordslight amplification by stimulated emission of radiation, and radar, which originally stood for radio detecting and ranging.
Lexicalization can also occur in common nouns formed from acronyms. For example, from the acronym UGT (General Union of Workers) we have the ugetista adjective 'affiliated to the UGT ', in the same way that from PP (Popular Party) we have pepero 'affiliated to the Popular Party'.
The first thing we must bear in mind is that many acronyms are already formed from words in the plural, as in ICT (information technology) or FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). However, different treatments of the plural of initials or acronyms can be given. On the one hand, some may be treated as a common name, and form the plural as if it were just another noun: Las pymes (plural of PYME, acronym for small and medium-sized enterprises), los grapos (plural of GRAPO, acronym for Grupos Anti-Fascists First of October) orthe geos (plural of GEO, acronym for Special Operations Group). As can be seen, these are words whose spelling is lowercase, and this is due, as we have explained previously, to the fact that they are lexicalized acronyms.
Another very common case —although not recommended— is to write a lowercase -s at the end of an acronym. As recommended by the New Grammar of the Spanish language (2014, § 3.7m, p. 164), it is preferable to treat these words as if they were invariable words. Thus, the correct thing is to write the NGOs instead of the NGOs, the CDs instead of the CDs or the DNIs instead of the DNIs.
Finally, it should be mentioned that initials and acronyms are different from abbreviations and shortenings. As is well known, the plural of certain abbreviations —not all of them— is formed by duplicating the initials of their components, as in Autonomous Communities (CC. AA.), United States (USA) or Olympic Games (JJ. OO.).