How do humans standardize abbreviation?

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Is there a linguistic reason we abbreviate something like the word “Management” as MGMT. What determines which letters will best to use to abbreviate?

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4 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

The same way we develop new words. One or two people start using a certain abbreviation for whatever reason, and it spreads from there. If there are competing abbreviations, generally the one that’s easier to write but still understandable will spread. At some point the abbreviation will have enough people using it that it will reach a critical mass and at that point it will be the primary abbr. (We’ll see if that one catches on)

Anonymous 0 Comments

I think that’d be a great question for r/etymology, I’d love to read the answers from people who really know this stuff.

I don’t really know this stuff, but I’d guess that it’s mostly removing letters that aren’t pronounced as heavily in the word. Vowels are kind of just the spaces between consonants and they’re usually the first to go – Arabic and Hebrew don’t write vowels down at all. Maybe the consonants that remain are the ones on stressed syllables?

I guess the unhelpful answer is that words are abbreviated to be as short as possible without making it unclear what the word is. That might require different abbreviated lengths for different words, like *mgmt* vs *apt* (apartment) vs *Mr.* (Mister).

Abbreviations like *Pres.* for President clearly work differently

Anonymous 0 Comments

Some abbreviations are the result of committees or standards organizations, like the abbreviations of the States of the US. Other words have a sort of natural abbreviation created by removing the vowels and less-emphasized consonants in the word, like your example with Management. Remove the less-emphasized letters and you get an abbreviation that sounds like the original word. This makes it ripe for adoption.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Usually people overtime breaking words down to type them quicker. Like how people started shortening saying the entirety of “apartment’ compared to apt. I think it just comes down to the most enunciated letters of the word so even saying the abbreviation while ‘silently reading’, it gets you pretty close to saying the original word.

AParTmenT (with a T removed for simplicity) ; APT

ManaGMenT ; MGMT

You also have the abbreviations that shorten a phrase, and tend to use the first letters. Sure someone right off the bat might not know, but after you figure it out it stays with you.

AFAIK: As Far As I Know

AFK: Away From Keyboard

TY: Thank You

BRB: Be Right Back

It’s all most likely to just save a few seconds and makes it a little easier while still keeping the original meaning.