A little more periodophilia

Ok, I swore that I wasn’t going to post any more about periodophilia in the New York Times, in initialistic abbreviations, after writing on J.F.K. referring to JFK Airport, but then two came by me in rapid succession — both of them involving initialisms that are pretty much always periodless outside the pages of the NYT, so that they look distinctly odd in Times-style, where adherence to the style sheet trumps actual usage (WF, or well-formedness, in this case according to a style sheet, winning over Faith, or faithfulness, in this case to the sources).

The first was in the print edition of February 26, in Ashley Parker’s “Gay Male Secretary for the White House” (p. A11):

“As the first man and first L.G.B.T. American to hold the post, [Jeremy Bernard’s] appointment [as White House social secretary] underscores the president’s commitment to diversity,” said Chad Griffin, a friend of Mr. Bernard and a political strategist in California who helped to spearhead a federal lawsuit challenging Proposition 8, the voter-approved measure that bars same-sex marriage in that state.

The point at hand is the L.G.B.T., which I don’t think I’ve ever seen in print, where LGBT (or GLBT) is standard. (On a separate point, some have remarked that the appointment of a gay man, or a lesbian, as, say, chief of staff would be much more notable than as social secretary. But step by step, I guess.)

Then in Ben Zimmer’s valedictory “On Language” column in the NYT Magazine (p. 16), in print the next day (howls of dismay from me here):

When it comes to the field of natural-language processing (N.L.P. for short), we’re entering a new age of technoidealism, after a few fallow decades when the early promises of artificial intelligence fell far short of the mark.

People in the business of natural language processing (normally spelled without the hyphen, by the way) uniformly refer to the field as NLP, as in “The Stanford NLP Group” (homepage here) and in Mark Liberman’s postings on NLP on Language Log. In this case, Ben’s writing was made to conform to the Times style sheet, regardless of the practices of people in the field.

(If you search on “NLP”, you get a lot of pages about Neuro-Linguistic Programming; some information here. Although the Times doesn’t mention this NLP very often, it seems to refer to it without periods, as in this 2003 piece here — presumably because Neuro isn’t a separate word in the expression.)

 

6 Responses to “A little more periodophilia”

  1. Neal Goldfarb Says:

    “People in the business of natural language processing (normally spelled without the hyphen, by the way)…”

    So how fucking dare they complain about natural language being ambiguous?

  2. Neal Goldfarb Says:

    I don’t. I was overcome by the irony of it all and tried to make a joke. And considering what the joke was about, I suppose it serves me right that what I wrote was read literally.

  3. Laura Says:

    Some of the initialisms with periods that I’ve seen recently and that I hate: H.I.V. and A.I.D.S.

  4. Style sheet tyranny « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] matter what — for instance, its periodophilia in initialistic abbreviations (most recently, here), where it’s happy to disregard the ordinary practices of people and institutions who use […]

  5. Edward I as Oliver Cromwell « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] no matter what — for instance, its periodophilia in initialistic abbreviations (most recently, here), where it’s happy to disregard the ordinary practices of people and institutions who use the […]

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