Elsevier's Dictionary of Communicative Abbreviations, by R.A

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NiveauHogeschool
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AuteurR.A. Letusé La O

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Elsevier's Dictionary of Communicative Abbreviations, by R.A. Letusé La O; Amsterdam - Lausanne - New York - Oxford - Shannon - Singapore, Tokyo, 1998, Elsevier, with introduction, acknowledgements, general features of abbreviations in the dictionary, abbreviations, bibliography (five pages), the main body contains a list of abbreviations and other words, with a ethymology, meaning, example and source
hardcover, bound, leatherette, 25x17 cm, 347 p's, isbn 0-444-82889-3
condition new
price 60 euro's, postage not included due to international delivery costs, packaging included, all packaging is reused material, retrieval at seller is possible

R. A. Letusé La O: Elsevier’s Dictionary of Communicative Abbreviations.

Reviewed by Peter Motte

The first thing that springs to mind when reading this title is: ‘What are communicative abbreviations?’ R. A. Letusé La O, the dictionary’s author, does not provide a definition, but he explains: ‘Most standard abbrevations are not communicative since they only bring about a graphical reduction of their component parts. Likewise, they are uttered as if the words they stand for were written in full, e.g. "app" has to be read as "apparatus".’ Contrary to communicative abbreviations, which are read as and even spoken as if their abbreviated form is the full form. In other words: communicative abbreviations are not used as abbreviations, but as words in their own right. To give a banal example: Internet, which is the abbreviation of ‘international network’.
Letusé La O’s work lists alphabetically those abbreviations. Each entry has four constituents: abbreviation, etymology, meaning and example. The abbreviation is followed by a label stating the type of abbreviation. More important: it is also stated whether the headword is colloquial, vulgar, slang, etc. When it is an acronym, its pronunciation is given, which interpreters might find useful. In most cases the etymology provides the original language or country from which the abbreviation comes. The meaning not only gives the definition or meaning of abbreviation, but also its grammatical function. If it belongs to a special argot or if it happens to be slang, more etymological information is supplied in most cases. The example sentence is mostly taken from the original sources.
Letusé La O has also used a classification system of types of abbreviations. This classification might sound interesting, but it is not for the interpreter or translator, and because of that one tends to judge that it would have been more fruitful if he would have paid more attention to the amount of entries. But what else could we expect of somebody who is captivated by this kind of linguistic phenomenon, than trying to classify the whole bunch?
The dictionary is developed as a general dictionary. On the one hand it is aimed at professionals, but on the other hand it includes various areas. The book is something in between a general dictionary, and a specialised dictionary. MOSFET is not included, but transistor and transponder are. As translators are often baffled by abbreviations crawling in their source texts without a connection to the text’s major subject, this might prove handy.
What does ‘general’ mean in this case? I took a random look, and found the following entries, which I enlist with part of the explanations:
- Elvis, 1: a disc or collection of songs recorded by Elvis Presley.
- Elvis, 2: a type of mens’ haircut introduced by the King. Originates in 1955 and was used by teenagers.
- ‘em: pronoun them
- emcee: master of ceremony
- EMDR: eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: a technique for treating post-traumatic stress dissorder. Sufferers recall their traumas while flicking their eyes from side to side.
- EMU: European Monetary Union, a unit likely to be in force in the EC if the Maastricht agreement is eventually implemented
- endodontics: endo-orthodontics: the branch of dentristry related to the treatment of tooth roots, pulp and adjacent tissue in the mouth
- endorphin: endogenous morphine, one of a group of peptide hormones which are mostly found in the brain.
- ENIAC: Electronically Numerical Integrator And Computer, trademark name for the first computer put into gear in the late forties (and inspiration for Isaac Asimov’s Multivac in some of his stories)
- GAFIA: Getting Away From It All, act of abandoning science fiction and returning to the mundane world. GAFIA was first used in the Washington Post by Michael Dirda.
It is clear that one of the dictionnaries strengths is the cultural information it provides, which makes it a useful tool for localisation. The list also shows the variation of subjects. The absence of words like MOSFET, however, shows certain lacuna. The entry on the EMU even indicates the dictionary’s age: it dates from 1998, but that should not be considered a major flaw, rather the result of our fast changing society. Sometimes, there are real mistakes, like the explanation of GAFIA: it is NOT the act of abandoning science fiction, but the act of abandoning science fiction FANDOM. Inserting the word ‘fandom’ makes the definition understandable. Originally, ‘gafia’ even mentioned the opposite movement described by Letusé’s definition: namely leaving the mundane world to ENTER fandom.
In general we admire Letusé’s work, and explaining the meanings of the communicative abbreviations - rather than just mentioning the source words - adds to its usefulness. Interpreters might like the pronunciation indications. As the amount of communicative abbreviations tends to rise each year, we hope this work will receive a follow-up, including a revision of the current entries. At the moment, Elsevier’s Dictionary of Communicative Abbreviations is a useful tool, but cannot be your sole source, because it is not complete - of course -, and some explanations are not reliable. Question is whether the user would really benefit from it when he has Internet access, considering the book’s price: 122,71 euro’s. But, of course, that is a different story: finding something on the Internet can be time consuming, and than Elsevier’s Dictionary of Communicative Abbreviations by R. A. Letusé La O might come in handy, if one uses it with a healthy amount of reserve. However, we think it might be especially useful for lexicographers who want to study the field of (communicative) abbreviations, or who want to compile themselves a dictionary of (communicative) abbreviations.

R. A. Letusé La O: Elsevier’s Dictionary of Communicative Abbreviations. 1998, xxii + 347 pages, with bibliography. In English. Elsevier Sciences BV, POB 1991, NL-1000 BZ Amsterdam. Price: 122,71 euro, 275 NLG. ISBN 0-444-82889-3.

Reviewed by Peter Motte
Zoekertjesnummer: m1778157880