Posted by: janecronin | May 14, 2017

Initials and acronyms


Acronyms are the words we make out of initials.  Often they are similar in English and Spanish, but we may fail to recognise them in their spoken form.   For instance, many English speakers would struggle to understand “CD” or “DVD” in Spanish, which sound more or less like “the de” and “de uve de.   Although it’s obvious if you think about it, we don’t expect to hear the names of Spanish letters being used in this way even when we’ve faithfully learnt the Spanish alphabet.

Another example is the Spanish MOT equivalent, the ITV.  You may be inclined to say it as though it were a television channel, when in fact the Spanish say “i te uve”.  If you look at the ITV stations some of them actually have this written on them, run together as one word, “iteuve”, which by the way stands for “Inspección Técnica de Vehículo”.

When iinitials represent the names of organisations, they are often in reverse order from English.  For example, the familiar NATO, becomes OTAN in Spanish (Organización del Tratado del Atlántico del Norte), whilst the UN is ONU (Organización de Naciones Unidas) and the EU in Spanish is the UE (Unión Europea).

One rather strange phenomenon regarding the Spanish use of initials is the way they deal with plurals, as in the United States which is Estados Unidos.  You might think that this would be abbreviated to EU, but in fact, because both words are in the plural, the initial letters double, so that the USA in Spanish is EEUU.  In an similar way, los Juegos Olímpicos is abbreviated form are JJOO.

An abbreviation which is very peculiarly Spanish is that of the word “usted”.  “Usted” means “you” when someone is being addressed formally, as opposed to “tú” which is an informal way of saying “you”.  “Usted” is often abbreviated in writing to “Ud”, and sometimes “Vd”, while the plural “ustedes” can be written “Uds” or “Vds”.  Another abbreviation often seen is the one for brothers or “hermanos”.  There is a large furniture store in Torrevieja which uses this name which looks like “hnos”, although is said as “hermanos” in full.

Finally, you will come across all sorts of abbreviations when you come to reading and writing addresses.  You will find that street, or “calle” is written as “c/ “, avenue or “avenida” is written “avda” and square or “plaza” is “pl”.  The postal code or “código postal” is “c.p.” and the words for left “izquierda” and right “derecha”, often used to describe the location of flats in a building are “izq” and “dcha”, whilst of course floor numbers such as “primero” “segundo” “tercero” and “cuarto” are written 1º, 2º, 3º, 4º.

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