Why don't the British capitalize NASA?

For instance, from this article:

Many more examples.

Perhaps they don’t know that it is an acronym… or maybe they’re just recognizing that there isn’t a whole lot of aeronautics left in it any more.

Maybe you should ask them.

A quick search reveals that this seems to be the BBC’s usual practice with acronyms, at least as regards OPEC, APEC, ANZUS, UNICEF, NATO, and UNSCOM. They’re not quite as consistent with that last. They are also uncertain about KFOR, which was a dopey acronym to begin with. The most recent preference is to call it K-For.

Couldn’t think of any other acronyms off the top of my head.

I think you mean the “Bbc”.

Just a thought…

The list of acronyms listed by dqa are ones that are normally pronounced as words, rather then as their constituent letters - i.e. “Nasa” rather then “N-A-S-A”.

Searching for acronyms that are normally pronounced as letters shows that these are capitilised. e.g.:

And an American example (still from the BBC):

These are generally referred to as abbreviations, rather than acronyms.

The British do capitalise NASA (or at least this one does). There’s no chance that the BBC don’t know NASA is an acronym, although I have occasionally come across some people over here, not BBC staff, who suppose that it stands for “North American Space Agency” or similar.

I think dqa has diagnosed the problem, and it seems pretty lazy of them to me. Why not drop them a line complaining about it?

It’s down to pronunciation, according to the Guardian style guide:

A similar distinction also appears in Hebrew.

Of the 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, 5 come in two versions - one which is used at the beginning or middle of a word, and the other is used at the end of a word.

The question is which version to use if one of these 5 letters comes at the end of an abbreviation or acronym.

If the whole thing is read as a single word (such as TN"K, which is read “Tanach”, and means “Bible”) then the last letter does take the “end of a word” version, because it is at the end of this readable acronym.

But if it is read as its constituent words (such as AA"P, which is read “af al pi”, and means “even though”) then the ending letter is in the “beginning of a word” version, because it is at the beginning of the last word of this abbreviation.

(In both cases, a double-apostrophe is placed before the last letter, to identify it as a multi-word abbreviation/acronym, analogous to the periods often used in English.)

I’m a Brit, and pretty well everyone over here knows NASA is an acronym, and capitalises it.

So why the error at the BBC? Because despite its consistent PR attempts to portray itself as some sort of beacon of excellence, the BBC. while containng many good people and offering some worthwhile output, also contains a lot of utter dipsticks, bureaucratic idiots and lazy-minded halfwits, and puts out much drivel. This is one of the consequnces of being lazy, which it can afford to be because it is funded by compulsory taxation (the so-called licence fee, which you have to have just to own a telly, even if you hate the BBC’s crap and never want any of its output).

If they had to prove their worth in a free competitive market, on a level playing field, maybe they would occasionally try to get things right.

I e-mailed the BBC shortly after suggesting it, since I knew no one else would. Here’s the response I got:

“Where acronyms are concerned News Online’s editorial style is to use upper and lower case letters for those that are pronounceable eg Nasa, Aids etc. We capitalise those that are not pronounceable such as BBC, RSPCA etc.”