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Old 07-13-2018, 12:15 PM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is offline
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If you spell 'scuba' in all caps, why?

I noticed that a number of people (not just on this site) spell 'scuba' in all caps. Why? I know that some years ago it was not uncommon to see 'radar' similarly spelled in all caps, but that doesn't seem to happen much anymore.

(And if it's because you're a prescriptivist, that's cool. Just curious.)
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Old 07-13-2018, 12:18 PM
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SCUBA is an acronym for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus and traditionally the first letter of the words in acronyms are capitalized. Though it seems this practice is becoming more optional.
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Old 07-13-2018, 12:20 PM
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Because it's an acronym: Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus.
Just like RADAR: RAdio Detection And Ranging
and LASER: Light Amplified by Stimulated Emission of Radiation
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Old 07-13-2018, 12:21 PM
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Both were originally spelled in all caps, because they are acronyms (the same with LASER). As the words became more commonly used and thus more familiar, they began to be treated as ordinary words, and not capitalized - but some people who were used to spelling them with all caps never changed the style they preferred.
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Old 07-13-2018, 12:22 PM
begbert2 begbert2 is offline
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If I write scuba in all caps, it's because I'm shouting at you.

I'm of the personal opinion that you only need to all-caps acronyms if you're actually using them as acronyms at the time - which it to say, if you were saying them aloud you'd speak each letter. Once an acronym achieves status as a word, it's no longer a series of letters and needn't be written in a way intended to emphasize that fact.
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Old 07-13-2018, 12:23 PM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is offline
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Well thanks, well-meaning people for informing me that it was an acronym. I don't think I would EVER have figured that out on my own. Wow!

Anyway, I was asking about personal usage, not etymology, which I was already familiar with. It started life as an acronym, but that ship has sailed. Now, according to most dictionary editors, it's just a word, like radar and laser. Hence, the question.
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Old 07-13-2018, 12:29 PM
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I think if you see us do it in all caps, we're trying to be proper. Especially in discussion, like with recent events. We don't want the discussion about the heroic mission to devolve into a bunch of chastising from people who "respect" the acronym or something. Or that by not capitalizing our knowledge is weak and our points don't matter. We all know that sort of thing can and will happen.
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Old 07-13-2018, 12:32 PM
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Well, the answer is still that it started as an acronym and some people still follow acronym usage because they want to. That doesn't change no matter what your personal opinion is or the opinion of dictionaries or editors.
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Old 07-13-2018, 12:35 PM
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I tend to write SCUBA, but then I also write laser and radar. It's one of those inconsistencies I don't notice until someone says "hey, you're being inconsistent."

So what now? Given that virtually nobody writes LASER and RADAR, I'd have to be real jackass to reverse course on those. So I guess from now on I'll be writing scuba instead of SCUBA.
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Old 07-13-2018, 12:45 PM
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I used to write SCUBA. Then I noticed that PADI says scuba. Which is funny that they insist on their branded all caps name, but dump the acronym for scuba itself.
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Old 07-13-2018, 12:58 PM
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Aviation uses a lot of all caps, especially for identifiers.
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Old 07-13-2018, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by GusNSpot View Post
Aviation uses a lot of all caps, especially for identifiers.
But aviation and scuba don't really mix.
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Old 07-13-2018, 03:42 PM
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I recently used SCUBA in all caps, probably because it's a word I rarely use, and I didn't stop to think about it passing into small-case usage. Now, I wonder if LIDAR, FUBAR and SNAFU are still upper-case. Again, I can't recall ever putting those words into print before.
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Old 07-13-2018, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
I tend to write SCUBA, but then I also write laser and radar. It's one of those inconsistencies I don't notice until someone says "hey, you're being inconsistent."

So what now? Given that virtually nobody writes LASER and RADAR, I'd have to be real jackass to reverse course on those. So I guess from now on I'll be writing scuba instead of SCUBA.
On a military history board I frequent there's at least one poster who writes 'RADAR'. I think that's an affectation at this point, even if you're speaking of radar in the WWII era but weren't around back then. Same with laser. Scuba/SCUBA would be a little more gray area just IMO though I'd write it scuba. As was mentioned though scuba isn't a particularly common word though the great majority of people I guess have a general idea what it is. Radar and particularly laser (pointers, in CD/DVD players etc so literally a household word) are much more common words.
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Old 07-13-2018, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by begbert2 View Post
If I write scuba in all caps, it's because I'm shouting at you.

I'm of the personal opinion that you only need to all-caps acronyms if you're actually using them as acronyms at the time - which it to say, if you were saying them aloud you'd speak each letter. Once an acronym achieves status as a word, it's no longer a series of letters and needn't be written in a way intended to emphasize that fact.
But by most definitions the distinction between an acronym and an initialism is that the former is pronounced as a word. So if you're saying each letter you don't really have an acronym.
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Old 07-13-2018, 05:00 PM
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But by most definitions the distinction between an acronym and an initialism is that the former is pronounced as a word. So if you're saying each letter you don't really have an acronym.
Googling into the differences between acronyms and initialisms (and, subsequently, when you capitalize one or the other) led me to the following two conclusions:

1) By at least two different definitions, all initialisms are also acronyms. It's not really correct to say there's a distinction, just like there's not really a distinction between odd numbers and all numbers.

2) The general rule for de-capitalizing an acronym is when it becomes a word rather than a proper name or term of art. If you consider 'scuba' to be a technical term, it's SCUBA. If you just consider it to be a normal word, it's scuba. This is why pronounceable acronyms like NASA and NACHA keep their capitals; they're still names, not words.

('lol' is apparently a special case, in that it lives in an environment where everyone's an uncultured lout who won't capitalize anything, so now if you capitalize it you come off as a rube, LOL.)
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Old 07-13-2018, 05:01 PM
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Consider NATFA, aka nafta, aka Nafta.
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Old 07-13-2018, 05:36 PM
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But aviation and scuba don't really mix.
I'd be willing to bet that someone, somewhere has gone scuba diving from a flying boat!
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Old 07-13-2018, 05:40 PM
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I'd be willing to bet that someone, somewhere has gone scuba diving from a flying boat!
Username/post combo of the week?
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Old 07-13-2018, 09:29 PM
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My dad was one of the first SCUBA divers, having trained in the Navy as a hard had diver then moved on to SCUBA when the equipment first became available.

His scrapbook was plastered with all sorts of patches, certifications, photos etc. with the term "SCUBA" prominently displayed all over the place. Not scuba.

Which is why I tend to use SCUBA.
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Old 07-13-2018, 09:33 PM
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I'd be willing to bet that someone, somewhere has gone scuba diving from a flying boat!
Well, my dad came close. As noted above, he was an early SCUBA diver, and also a pilot. A friend of his owned a seaplane, an old Republic RC-3 Seabee. They flew that thing around Lake Michigan, spotted wrecks, and dove on them, back in the 1950's and 1960's.

Of course the RC-3 did have the capacity to land on a runway, so it wasn't a true flying boat.
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Old 07-13-2018, 10:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earl Snake-Hips Tucker View Post
I noticed that a number of people (not just on this site) spell 'scuba' in all caps. Why?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Earl Snake-Hips Tucker View Post
Well thanks, well-meaning people for informing me that it was an acronym. I don't think I would EVER have figured that out on my own. Wow!
I noticed that a number of people (not just on this site) will ask a question, and if people tell them the answer and it's something they already know, they get peeved, as if there has to be some other answer. Why?
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Old 07-13-2018, 11:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by begbert2 View Post
Googling into the differences between acronyms and initialisms (and, subsequently, when you capitalize one or the other) led me to the following two conclusions:

1) By at least two different definitions, all initialisms are also acronyms. It's not really correct to say there's a distinction, just like there's not really a distinction between odd numbers and all numbers.
I guess I'd have to agree with that, because it's equally wrong There certainly is a difference between odd numbers and all numbers -- even if you mean all positive integers. One is a subset of the other.

But I'd say you have it backwards. By one definition all acronyms are initialism. by another they are distinct, but I've never heard it used for initialisms to form the subset.
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Old 07-13-2018, 11:17 PM
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Well, my dad came close. As noted above, he was an early SCUBA diver, and also a pilot. A friend of his owned a seaplane, an old Republic RC-3 Seabee. They flew that thing around Lake Michigan, spotted wrecks, and dove on them, back in the 1950's and 1960's.

Of course the RC-3 did have the capacity to land on a runway, so it wasn't a true flying boat.
As long as it could land on water, I'll allow it!
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Old 07-13-2018, 11:29 PM
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For the same reason that Navy SEALs and SUBMARINES are capitalized...you're supposed to capitalize things relating to the sea
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Old 07-14-2018, 12:11 AM
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I tend to write SCUBA, but then I also write laser and radar. It's one of those inconsistencies I don't notice until someone says "hey, you're being inconsistent."
There was never a Family Ties where Mallory had to remember what "LASER" stood for.
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Old 07-14-2018, 12:34 AM
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At both the English-language newspapers I worked at in Thailand, the rule was if you can pronounce it like a word, then no all caps, such as radar, Nato, Aids and of course scuba. If you pronounce each individual letter, then all caps such as WHO. There were exceptions such as SEAL, to distinguish it from the animal, lest there be some confusion.
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Old 07-14-2018, 12:44 AM
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At both the English-language newspapers I worked at in Thailand, the rule was if you can pronounce it like a word, then no all caps, such as radar, Nato, Aids and of course scuba. If you pronounce each individual letter, then all caps such as WHO. There were exceptions such as SEAL, to distinguish it from the animal, lest there be some confusion.
Wow. Is that a British English convention? Aids sounds like a breath mint. Nato sounds like a noxious food eaten in Japan. Anyway, that's not the convention in the US. It would definitely cause confusion for the reader.
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Old 07-14-2018, 01:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Earl Snake-Hips Tucker View Post
Well thanks, well-meaning people for informing me that it was an acronym. I don't think I would EVER have figured that out on my own. Wow!
Then you already knew the answer. If it's an acronym, some people will capitalize it.
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Old 07-14-2018, 04:30 AM
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On a fairly irelevant note, here's the Revillos singing Scuba, Scuba with a stupid video! Only the first letters are capitalised (because it's a song title) and no scuba gear appears in the video but it's fun anyway!
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Old 07-15-2018, 01:16 AM
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What about the people who write LOGO in all caps?
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Old 07-15-2018, 01:21 AM
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Little known fact: originally the acronym was Self Contained Apparatus for Breathing Underwater, but it never caught on.
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Old 07-15-2018, 02:00 AM
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Wow. Is that a British English convention? Aids sounds like a breath mint. Nato sounds like a noxious food eaten in Japan. Anyway, that's not the convention in the US. It would definitely cause confusion for the reader.
It caused no confusion whatsoever. I don't see why it would.
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Old 07-15-2018, 08:16 AM
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Remember, in Doctor Who novelizations, it's always TARDIS.
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Old 07-15-2018, 10:43 AM
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Remember, in Doctor Who novelizations, it's always TARDIS.
"Time And Relative Dimensions In Space? Sounds like someone REALLY wanted the acronym to be TARDIS." It's not complete. Should be TARDIS Machine, TARDISM. I like that better. Ism ism ism.
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Old 07-15-2018, 10:51 AM
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Even though I pronounce them as words, I write them as all caps such as NASA. This is especially true with acronyms that are indeed actually words like as HOG (Harley Owners Group); it cuts down on the confusion. Sometimes.
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Old 07-15-2018, 11:41 AM
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In the amateur radio community, one learns that many people write HAM in all caps.
It's not an acronym and I don't know why it is so widespread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Siam Sam View Post
There were exceptions such as SEAL, to distinguish it from the animal, lest there be some confusion.
I wonder what kind of articles would leave room for mixing up the animals and the elite commando force.
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Old 07-15-2018, 03:55 PM
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I wonder what kind of articles would leave room for mixing up the animals and the elite commando force.
Either I was misremembering their style -- possible since these guys did not appear in too many Business stories, which was the desk I was on -- or they changed their style since I left, because as you can see from this recent story, the diver is a "Seal."
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Old 07-15-2018, 06:59 PM
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I see far too many people, when writing about cars, to capitalize HEMI. It's not an acronym, it's just shortened. Hemi.
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Old 07-16-2018, 07:06 PM
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But aviation and scuba don't really mix.
Somebody should have told that to JFK Jr.
  #41  
Old 07-16-2018, 07:22 PM
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Well, the answer is still that it started as an acronym and some people still follow acronym usage because they want to. That doesn't change no matter what your personal opinion is or the opinion of dictionaries or editors.
Yeah, it's basically archaic usage at this point, but still legit.
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Old 07-16-2018, 08:14 PM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is offline
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^^Well, yeah. M-W revoked its 'acronym only' status at least 40 years ago. I'd say at this point, it's archaic. Anyway, carry on, prescriptivists!
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Old 07-16-2018, 09:15 PM
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I was an instructor at a school for a long range navigation system. We called it LORAN.
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Old 07-17-2018, 12:28 AM
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Somebody should have told that to JFK Jr.
Too soon?
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Old 07-17-2018, 01:01 AM
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Too soon?
19 years, give or take a few hours.
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Old 07-17-2018, 01:05 AM
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Well, an experienced pilot would not have lost his head. I guess it runs in the family.
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