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The Mutant Abbracronym Dilemna

I know I promised several upcoming topics, and a couple of them are in the works, but I need your help in the interim. How would you most semantically mark up the word “MySQL”?

Before you rush to answer, consider these factors:

  1. SQL stands for “Structured Query Language”
  2. SQL is pronounced both “See-Kwel” and “Ess-Kyoo-El”
  3. The word “My” is neither an acronym or an abbreviation

I’ve conferred with several colleagues, resulting in a number of various responses. I would share, but I’m eager to hear what you think.

So? Have at it!


Ethan said:

You already heard my take, but I'm gonna rock the abbr tag:

<abbr title="My Structured Query Language">MySQL</abbr>

I usually stay away from acronym (that's a separate thread), but MySQL's "official" pronunciation would lead me to think that abbr is more accurate anyway.

Posted on September 25, 2007 03:15 PM

Daryl said:

I think because it's a name, neither abbr or acronym suit it. If you were a radio personality, would you call yourself <acronym title="disc jockey">DJ</acronymn> Daniel Mall

Posted on September 25, 2007 03:34 PM

Dan said:

I'm going to agree with Daryl. It's a proper noun, and not an abbreviation.

This is different than, say, PHP, where the actual name of the language is "PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor". So in this case, when referring to it as "PHP," you would be correct in using the abbr element.

In the case of MySQL, the name of the language is "MySQL", not "My Structured Query Language"

Just my two cents.

Posted on September 25, 2007 03:58 PM

Dan Mall said:

Daryl and Dan: I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I do want to qualify your statements (mostly because I want to make sure I’m understanding correctly). I don’t think abbreviations have limited scope depending on whether or not it is proper. “U.S.” is a proper noun as well as an abbreviation.

In the case of MySQL, the name of the language is "MySQL", not "My Structured Query Language"

That makes a bit more sense to me as to why it might not be an abbreviation. However, the last paragraph of this spec mysteriously uses “SQL” as an example of an abbreviation, and yet it doesn’t provided a direction as to what is correct. Cryptic!

Posted on September 25, 2007 04:42 PM

Daryl said:

I think the difference is that "U.S." is not necessarily the name, it's a shortened version because I'm too lazy to type "United States". MySQL is a name that's composed of an abbreviation, but as a whole it's not really short for anything. On a related note, I don't think I would personally add acronym or abbr tag to a name like IBM... yes, it's short for International Business Machines, but who would ever refer to them as such. Another case, if "Daniel" is your formal name, should you abbr Dan?

To me, MySQL and IBM are common names and when using them in their expanded form is just unnatural.

Posted on September 25, 2007 07:25 PM

James Daniels said:

What about My<acronym title="Structured Query Language">SQL</acronym>?

Would the lack of whitespace between My and the inline element acronym convey any symantic relationship?

Posted on September 26, 2007 10:57 AM

michael said:

for what it's worth, i agree with ethan....

Posted on September 26, 2007 12:24 PM

Jenn said:

I would agree with above statements that "MySQL" is a noun and wouldn't require extra markup.

I get a bit weary when reading "The SQL part of “MySQL” stands for “Structured Query Language.”, but then go back to the noun belief when reading, MySQL is named after co-founder Monty Widenius's daughter, My.

As far as the w3 spec, well I would say MySQL and SQL are two different things. If you were writing about the band, R.E.M., would you mark that up as an acronym? I think just because a name might be based upon an abbreviation or acronym, doesn't necessarily make it one.

Posted on September 27, 2007 02:50 PM

Dan Mall said:

James: That would have been my first guess as well (with the tiny exception that I would replace acronym with abbr to cover all bases).

Would the lack of whitespace between My and the inline element acronym convey any symantic relationship?

I’m not sure, except maybe that it’s part of the same word.

Jenn: I’m leaning more and more towards what you (and others) have suggested, on the basis of it being a name that no one would ever say without abbreviating.

Would you (or anyone else) say the same rule applies to something like TortoiseSVN?

Posted on September 30, 2007 03:58 AM

Brian said:

Absolutely not as an abbreviation or an acronym. MySQL is a brand of relational database software. It is not a separate language (it uses SQL to run queries).

Unless the product is called "My Structured Query Language" and people only use MySQL to reference it in shorthand, you shouldn't have to mark it up as containing an abbreviation or acronym.

While it might be useful to know what the SQL in MySQL stands for, breaking the product name into a combination of a word and an abbreviation is incorrect.

As an aside, you could take PHP even further and nest your markup, since the 'PHP' in 'PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor' stands for 'Personal Home Page.'

Posted on September 30, 2007 01:26 PM

Keri Henare said:

Correct me if I'm wrong Brian, but I believe that PHP is referred to as a recursive abbreviation.

It originally stood for 'Personal Home Page' but was later changed to 'PHP Hypertext Preprocessor' where the 'PHP' segment also stands for 'PHP Hypertext Preprocessor'.

PHP History

Posted on November 20, 2007 06:25 AM

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