Re: Acronyms (off-topic)

From: Alain LaBonté  (
Date: Wed Aug 02 2000 - 13:30:14 EDT

À 07:12 2000-07-11 -0800, Doug Ewell a écrit:
>Patrick Andries <> wrote:
> > Well, ISO apparently is not an acronym but a reference to the Greek
> > element « isos » (equal) chosen for its language-neutrality. That's at
> > least the official story. Note that many technical magazines or even
> > dictionaries in France believe it to be an English acronym...
>Many English speakers also think ISO is an abbreviation or initialism
>(not "acronym"; that term is correct only when the resulting "word"
>is actually pronounced, like "AIDS" or "SIDA") of the English name
>"International Standards (or Standardization) Organization." Of course,
>this is wrong.

[Alain] ISO is not pronounced as a word in English but it is in French
(pronounce : "eezo" [the rule being in French that an s between two vowels
is systematically pronounced z]). That said it is not more an acronym in
French either.

    However there is one (only one whom I found) witness of the formation
of ISO, which is the successor of ISA (an English abbreviation in this case
without any doubt), who says that nobody ever talked about the Greek word,
the day ISO was founded... It maybe that he just was not following the
debate, or that the official story (which is indeed very official and the
only current thing) was made up a posteriori not to start a linguistc
debate. In any way the currrent version is much wiser, and more diplomatic
than the other version. I, for one, would have written ISO in uppercase
Greek letters (even if Greek is not an official language of ISO, that would
have given a better, although not perfect, sign of linguistic opening on
the world -- ant that would have affected both the French and English
pronunciation [the bad "i" in English and the bad "z" in French]).

Alain LaBonté
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