Author Topic: Acronyms in compounding  (Read 156 times)

Offline Natalia

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Acronyms in compounding
« on: June 30, 2017, 02:43:03 PM »
I would like to know whether acronyms can take part in the compounding process – that is, whether they can be constituents of compounds. Unfortunately,  I haven’t found any information about that in the literature.
The reason I’m asking this question is that I’m not sure whether I should classify forms like  “HRV blood pressure” (= heart rate variability), “WHO guideline” (= World Health Organization) or “QC process (= Quality Control) as compounds.
I would really appreciate your help in this matter.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Acronyms in compounding
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2017, 07:47:29 PM »
Clearly they can form syntactic compounds like "HIV medicine" or "AIDS medicine" or "flu medicine" (three types or abbreviation there: initialism, acronym, truncation) but it is hard to think of lexicalized compounds probably just because they are rare and might not be euphonic. But I don't see why it wouldn't be possible assuming they are lexical used rather than still actively productive-- for example LGBT+ still seems to be an active process because more letters can be added so it might not yet be a simple lexical item to be used in a new lexical iced compound. But otherwise I don't see why not. Whether there is existing research about this I don't know.
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Offline Natalia

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Re: Acronyms in compounding
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2017, 01:32:22 AM »
Thank you for you response.
Also, I wonder how to interpret such compounds. Let’s take the forms:
1)   OTC medication use (= over-the-counter)
2)   ECRHS data (European Community Respiratory Health Survey)

Should “OTC medication use” be considered phrasal compound (phrase + noun combination) because the first element (i.e. OTC) is a phrase, and “ECHRS data” should be seen as root because the second element is not derived from a verb?
« Last Edit: July 01, 2017, 04:40:17 AM by Natalia »

Offline Daniel

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Re: Acronyms in compounding
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2017, 01:42:32 AM »
There's compounding embedded within the initialism, but that's not part of the syntax of the main phrase. So there's a question about whether those are productively generated or stored in the lexicon-- I would assume that almost always if they are re-compounded they would not still be lexically productive, see my comment above, but, yes, there is some indication that a speaker's competence would allow for layered compounding of that sort, at least in terms of understanding.
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Offline Natalia

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Re: Acronyms in compounding
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2017, 02:10:30 AM »
So you suggest that the compound  "OTC medication use" (in this particular form) is not a syntax-like expression, even if "OTC" is an abbreviated phrase?

Offline Daniel

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Re: Acronyms in compounding
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2017, 03:49:15 AM »
Oh, no. I'll clarify--

"OTC medication use" is a three-word compound. Just like "allergy medication use".

What I meant is that within that context, "OTC" probably does not have any internal morphological/syntactic structure. Thus the whole expression "OTC medication use" is not a five-word compound of "over the counter medication use".

(I suppose it is possible to find examples of that type where essentially the initialism is just an abbreviation for a longer form in speech. We use those in linguistic research often for technical terms, such as "SVC" for "serial verb construction", so I might write "SVC phenomenon", which I suppose could be considered either a 4-word compound or a 2-word compound, depending on whether my notation was just a shorthand for the longer expression, because I didn't want to write it out, or a compound of the already shortened form "SVC" if that has taken on a life of its own. Borderline cases like that do exist. And I guess OTC could be an example for some individuals. But I think the whole thing would be easier to deal with by setting that aside-- that "OTC medication" is a 2-word compound, not 4!)
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Offline Natalia

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Re: Acronyms in compounding
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2017, 04:16:05 AM »
So if I treated "OCT medication" as a two-word compound, then "OCT" would be just a single word, a noun? Then, given that I analyse the compound as it is structurally, I would probably classify it as synthetic, NOT phrasal, as I would analyse it as Noun (OCT) + Deverbal noun (medication). Does it make sense?

My task is to classify compounds by types, so to me it's crucial to know whether compounds like the above should be put into the category of root, synthetic, phrasal, etc. types.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2017, 04:38:13 AM by Natalia »

Offline Daniel

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Re: Acronyms in compounding
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2017, 05:33:37 AM »
Yes, I would treat it as a 2-word compound. You can also make a note that "OTC" is somehow internally complex, but that's probably a lexical issue. It doesn't mean there's an overall 4-word compound.
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Offline Natalia

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Re: Acronyms in compounding
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2017, 06:12:04 AM »
Now I think I understand your point. But just to make sure, let me give you another example - "CHEERS research" (= Chicago Health Environmental Exposure and Recreation Study). I can analyse this form as N + N compound, right?

Offline Daniel

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Re: Acronyms in compounding
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2017, 07:13:18 AM »
That makes sense to me. I don't see any other way that would be consistent and fit on a single page.
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Offline Natalia

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Re: Acronyms in compounding
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2017, 08:14:28 AM »
OK, thank you very much for your help.