Last week, we mentioned a couple of abbreviations derived from the Latin e.g. & i.e. meaning for example and in other words respectively. There are several more in common usage:-etc, et al and viz. Have a look at the three sentences below and see if you can fill in the correct abbreviation out of the three:-
- Drucker, Porter ____ have helped establish management as a serious science.
- At the Institute of Computing learn about blogging, web design, podcasting _____.
- Four cultural capitals of Europe ___ Paris, London, Barcelona and Rome are bidding for-------
The answers are et al, etc & viz.
Et al derived from the Latin et alii means “and others” and is used when referring to people. Etc. is a short form for Et cetera means “and the others” often when referring to lists.
Viz. is quite formal and used when you wish to give more detail about a topic and derives from the Latin videlicet meaning “namely”.
Latin words as well as existing in abbreviated form still exist in their full forms and have become part of the English language. See the example below:-
The ad hoc committee met to discuss the dismissal of Jennifer Jones. To ensure fairness a verbatim transcript of the offending conversation was printed. They realised that the modus operandi of Ms. Jones had led to the situation and the fault was entirely hers.
Ad hoc refers to something designed for an immediate purpose and is used in business for meetings and committees. Verbatim means word for word and commonly used for reports, conversations and quotes. Modus operandi used to describe a person’s common manner or method of working.
In using Latin abbreviations or Latin in written work you must be confident that they are in common usage and will be recognised by the reader. For example, a.m. & p.m. are common abbreviations for ante meridian & post meridian (or meridiem.). Most of us are unaware of the derivation from the Latin, but the abbreviation is common knowledge. Ante and post are also fairly common in other expressions such as antenatal and postnatal.
Acronyms are types of abbreviations taking the initial letter of words and are often pronounced as a single word. One of the most common examples is NATO which is rarely used in its full form (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation). Indeed, few remember what it stood for. Use of numbers such as 3G (third generation), B2B(business to business) and G10,G7 and G8 seem to be increasing in use. If you can name all the countries in those various groups, then a spot Note here that B2B uses the number two to mean “to” rather than the numeral two. More of this next time when we look at the bewildering language of SMS (short message service)
Every organisation seems to demand an acronym, however new they are. The list is ever expanding and the use of acronyms within business has expanded. Often the use amongst a certain profession is designed to protect from outsiders or non-experts and clear communication should avoid acronyms that are not familiar to all readers. If you must use one, then write it in full the first time you use it.
Guy Perring is Director, Professional Development Unit (PDU), at the British Council Malaysia. The PDU offers a wide range of learning opportunities from management and communication skills training to developing English skills. Visit our website at www.britishcouncil.org.my or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.